Remarks at the Starfighter Memorial Dedication

Trenton, Ontario, 19 June, 2008 by General (Ret’d) Paul Manson


Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Many years ago an obscure English poet named Laurence Binyon, at a time of great sorrow, wrote seven lines that have very much to do with why we are here today. 

Taken from his poem, “For the Fallen”, Binyon’s words are known as The Act of Remembrance. It is recited throughout the world as people gather to remember those who gave their lives in military service, as we are doing this morning. You have heard it many times, I am sure. It begins with these lines: 

          They shall grow not old,

          as we that are left grow old:

          Age shall not weary them,

          Nor the years condemn.

 Today, those of us who are left remember the 37 young men who died in the service of their country, in the cause of securing the peace and freedom that are so important to us. Many years have passed since their sacrifice, and we live today in a very different world. Back then, when they died, there were no televised ramp ceremonies, no full-page stories in newspapers across the country, no national mourning, no ceremonial burial in the National Military Cemetery.

 But we who are left, we who knew these Starfighter pilots as fine, dedicated young friends, colleagues and family members, we have constantly remembered them through the years. The beautiful monument that we dedicate here today will ensure that they are never forgotten, and that Canadians can at last acknowledge their sacrifice in a fitting way. 

In the same poem that brought us the Act of Remembrance, Binyon gave us some other lines, now long-forgotten, yet which I think reflect the mood of this gathering: 

          There is music in the midst of desolation,

          And a glory that shines upon our tears. 

Over the years, the healing power of time has diminished our anguish, so intensely felt when they died. Today, in our personal acts of remembrance, we fondly recall the good times together in those exciting years of service. 

Just as important, we leave behind – in the form of this monument – a permanent symbol of selfless sacrifice for future generations to contemplate when we ourselves have passed from the scene. 

Let me conclude with a challenge. May I suggest that each of us who knew and respected the young men whose names are engraved here, whenever we visit or drive by Trenton, take a moment to stop at this spot, pause quietly for a moment to renew our memories, and recite these concluding lines of the Act of Remembrance: 

          At the going down of the sun

          And in the morning

          We will remember them.


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