Fifteen years ago, 3,000 innocent civilians – including 24 Canadians – were murdered in the horrific terror attacks of September 11th. These savage acts claimed the lives of regular people simply going to work in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon in Virginia, and travelling aboard the downed United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. The aftermath inflicted terrible suffering upon countless homes and families around the world.
We still mourn the loss of those who were violently taken from their loved ones in the attack, just as we recall the bravery of the first responders who offered hope and comfort to those who managed to survive. In the days and weeks that followed, rarely have Canada and the United States been closer in our resolve, highlighting the strong bond between our two nations. The acts of compassion, friendship and kindness by regular Canadians will never be forgotten, like the people of Gander, Newfoundland who opened their homes to travellers diverted to their small town because of the attacks.
Today, there are young Canadians for whom the terror attacks of September 11th are not even a faint memory. They may not fully appreciate how deeply that tragic event has shaped the world in which they now live. It is up to all of us to teach the next generation the importance of remembering this tragic event, learning from it, and ensuring that its lessons help us build a stronger Canada. National Day of Service provides us with an opportunity to turn a day of pain into a day of giving, a day to be forever remembered for compassion and bravery in the face of adversity. Those who serve are an inspiration to young Canadians to give back to their communities.
I encourage all Canadians to take a moment today to reflect on the terrible loss that took place 15 years ago, and to express their gratitude to those who serve their local communities, such as police officers, fire fighters and first responders.