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YEAR OF KOREA & YEAR OF THE KOREAN WAR VETERAN

Honourable Senators,

I rise today to reflect on a year that has been most significant for me personally, as a proud Canadian of Korean descent; for all the Veterans and their families; and for the quarter of a million and ever growing national Korean Canadian community, who all owe our living heroes and their fallen and departed compatriots, a lifetime of gratitude...

2013 has been a milestone year for Canada and Korea with the bicentennial of diplomatic relations and the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.

On December 4th, 2012 in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then Prime Minister of Korea Hwang-sik Kim jointly declared 2013 as the Year of Korea in Canada and the Year of Canada in Korea. And throughout 2013, there have been 50th anniversary celebrations from coast to coast.

On January 8, 2013, the former Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, The Honourable Steven Blaney, announced 2013 as "The Year of the Korean War Veteran". And as a result of this year, we can honestly say, the Korean War is forgotten no more!

On February 9th, Don Cherry on "Hockey Night in Canada" showed a photo taken in 1952 of Canadians playing hockey on the frozen Imjin River. The next morning, on the frozen Rideau, Parliamentarians, members of the Canadian military and other all-stars played in the "Imjin Classic", as part of Winterlude 2013, in honour of the Canadian fighting spirit on ice.

In April, Min. Blaney also led a Canadian delegation of veterans to Korea for the Battle of Kapyong revisit program hosted by Minister Park Sung-choon and the Government of Korea.

June 3rd, Min. Peter MacKay and Min. Steven Blaney awarded a special "Certificate of Recognition" to all Canada's veterans of the Korean War.

On June 19, we witnessed the Royal Assent of Bill S-213 (Korean War Veteran Day Act) to enact July 27 as a day of remembrance, in perpetuity. I recognize once more, our colleague Joseph Day who co-sponsored my Bill, the House sponsor MP Blaine Calkins; MP Mike Wallace who graciously offered his member's time slot so that Bill S-213 could receive passage in time for the July 27 anniversary; and all honourable senators in the House colleagues who unanimously supported the Bill

June 21-23 hundreds of veterans and guests converged in Ottawa for a special Veterans Weekend. The Canada Korea Society hosted the opening Gala dinner, Governor General David Johnston honoured them at Rideau Hall and a special Korea Day ceremony and luncheon hosted by Ambassador Hee-yong Cho.

July 9th, the 60th anniversary commemorative coin was unveiled at the Canadian War Museum

During the week of July 27, Blaine Calkins, Joe Day and I joined Minister Julian Fantino and a delegation of veterans in Korea to participate in the official 60th anniversary commemorations. In Canada, hundreds gathered at the Wall of Remembrance in Brampton, Ontario and in other regions across Canada on the inaugural "Korean War Veterans Day" as enacted.

The summit of the special year was Veterans Week last month, where Korean War veterans received front and centre recognition.

I thank Minister Fantino and his predecessors, Greg Thompson, Jean Pierre-Blackburn and Steven Blaney, their staff, VAC's Canada Remembers team, Ambassador Cho and the Embassy Team worked tirelessly throughout the year with my very dedicated staff to ensure the Year of the Korean War Veteran would be a year of all years. We know that with our veterans in their 80s and 90s, that the opportunity to honour them is now.

We must remind all Canadians that “freedom is not free.” Our freedoms were hard fought and won, through bloodshed and tears. Over five million people died on the small Korean peninsula. Entire cities and villages leveled. Families torn apart forever, including families of fallen Canadians who were not able to visit their loved ones, buried an ocean away. May all rest in peace, knowing that today the Republic of Korea is a sparkling democracy; and that their ultimate sacrifice had not been in vain.

Nous nous souviendrons d'eux. We will remember them.

 

 

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