Investiture of the Order of Military MeritRideau Hall
Thursday, June 17, 1999.
Welcome to Rideau Hall.
With the conflict in Kosovo, the military is very much in our thoughts. We anxiously followed the news of the missions our pilots were flying. And there are now hundreds of members of the Canadian Forces in Kosovo, as part of the peacekeeping force.
They are performing very difficult duties, in stressful and dangerous circumstances. We are proud of their courage, their skills and their professionalism. We hope that their contributions will help return peace to the area.
Kosovo is one more example we will add to the list of our forces' accomplishments. We point to our distinguished record in both world wars, and to our excellence on peacekeeping missions around the world. And here at home, the thousands of Canadians you help when they are threatened by flood, storms and fires, are grateful for your expert assistance.
But I don't think many people outside the military really understand the reality of military life. It is hard to comprehend the daily demands, the training needs, the reliance you put on your equipment – and the pressures your families live with.
We point proudly to your valour in times of crisis. But we don't always appreciate the courage you display every day – or the sense of responsibility that made you agree to put your lives on the line for your country – and for people you don't even know.
Since I became Governor General, I have had the opportunity to meet and to talk with some of the men and women who make up the Canadian Forces. When I present honours to exceptional individuals like today, I am always impressed by the people I meet.
One of the keys to our military's strength is the quality of its leadership, and the excellence of its members.
Today, I am pleased to invest 96 members of the Regular and Reserve Force into the Order of Military Merit. This honour recognizes your outstanding service and your devotion to duty.
This is an important opportunity to recognize your accomplishments, and to thank you.
You have dedicated your lives to serving this country. And all of you have performed your duties with competence.
You have earned this honour. You have earned the gratitude of all Canadians.
Congratulations and thank you.