June 23, 2005
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Today, sons and daughters are remembered, fathers, mothers, dear relatives, cherished friends – all lost aboard Air India, Flight 182. We gaze upon the polished rock of this memorial. We see their names, here to stand for all time. We reflect on lives cut short, on generations of descendents that never will be, on joy interrupted, and on a grief that has been an unwelcome companion now for 20 years. For you, for those you love, an instant of hate has brought an eternity of loss.
Alongside the majesty of the ocean we search for understanding, but it does not come. We are not naïve, we are not ignorant of the world and its sorrows, but this act of evil defies comprehension. It was an unimaginable loss. It was your loss. It was our nation’s loss. Make no mistake: The flight may have been Air India’s, it may have taken place of the coast of Ireland, but this is a Canadian tragedy.
Across these waters, back home in Canada, today is a national day of mourning. Throughout our country, across its vast spaces, flags are at half staff – out of respect, yes, but more out of our collective desire to say – we are with you. With you this day in sorrow, in remembrance, in condemnation of those who perpetrated this hateful deed.
All of us gathered here, all of those watching this memorial service from afar – we are with you. People from different countries, different backgrounds, different cultures – we have come together, united in the bond of our shared humanity, to bear witness at this eternal monument. To declare our outrage. To celebrate a communion of compassion.
To the families whose loved ones were lost on Flight 182 – I say to you today that with your help and guidance, we will build in Canada a permanent memorial to those who perished.
And for years to come on the 23rd of June, we will formally mark a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism -- a time both to remember those who have died at the cold hand of hate and to renew our determination to stand resolute against those who would seek to bring terror upon the world.
To the Irish - here in this small hamlet, and indeed across this bucolic, windswept region, you have opened your hearts to the world. You have welcomed strangers into your homes. You have comforted those who come in search of peace – lending a shoulder to cry on, or to help carry the burden. To you, I express the deepest gratitude of all Canadians.
To the rescue personnel in this country and the United Kingdom who so valiantly searched the sea on June 23, 1985, and on the days that followed: yours were acts of heroism and kindness. We are in your debt.
This is a land of pastoral beauty. Each summer, many of the hillsides are bathed in purple and crimson wild fuchsia. The term used to describe them is beautifully apt. They are known as "God's Tears".
Tears flowed that morning, 20 years ago. For the families of those who died, enough tears for a lifetime.
Today, as we share this moment of tranquility – and in the future, in the hard days yet to come, when the mind ponders what might have been – never forget that remembrance is in itself a timeless act of love. In so doing, we keep alive the memory of those who are missed. We feel them in our hearts. We mourn them, we celebrate them. And always, and forever, we remember.