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KOREAN WAR VETERANS

 

Honourable senators, I rise today, during this special Year of the Korean War Veteran, to recognize our veterans of the Korean War on the eve of the Royal Assent of Bill S-213, the Korean War Veterans Day act, which unanimously passed at every stage of the legislative process in both houses. 

This weekend, a special Korea Weekend will bring together hundreds of veterans from across Canada. This has been a dream of mine, three years in the making, and I am so honoured to share the Korea Weekend with all of those who will travel to Ottawa to participate. Since 2009, we have worked closely with Veterans Affairs Canada, the Canadian War Museum, Historica Dominion, the Canada Korea Society, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, and the Ministries of Patriots and Veterans Affairs to make this dream come true. 

This weekend’s program will begin with an opening gala hosted by the Canada Korea Society on Friday, June 21 at the Canadian War Museum. The veterans will get a sneak preview of the special sixtieth anniversary Korean War exhibit that evening, and the exhibit will be open to the public in the coming months. 

For more than a decade, the Korean government has expressed its appreciation by hosting numerous revisit programs for veterans or bereaved family members to visit Korea and to see the difference that their actions and sacrifices have made. I have seen firsthand the tears and joy of the veterans when they see the fruits of their effort.

 

Two veterans, Andrew Barber and Ron Kirk, visited Korea in 2010 and were so touched by the heroes’ welcome they received and so amazed at what Korea had become that, on the long flight home, they dreamt up a very special idea. During a conversation later in 2010, Andy told me about their wish to thank Korea and to honour them with a special program to invite Korean veterans to Canada in a gesture of friendship and thanks for Korea’s hospitality.

 

As soon as I heard their idea, I, too, was inspired. What a wonderful idea from two selfless men who continue to devote their lives to serving others. The KVA 26 ROK Memorial Project, a year in the making, was created. The committee raised funds and prepared a special program to allow three Korean veterans to visit Canada. In fact, they arrived today in Toronto, greeted by Andy and Ron, the President of KVA Unit 26, and their dedicated committee. 

Honourable senators, I hope that you, too, are inspired by this story and all of our veterans of the Korean War, and that you will celebrate, on July 27 Korean War Veterans Day, in this Year of the Korean War Veteran, by attending the commemorative ceremony in your respective regions. If time permits, join us on Friday at the gala opening to welcome all of the veterans to Ottawa.

 

Lest we forget. Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.

 

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