I delivered the following speech at the Remembrance Day Ceremony at Central Memorial Park on November 11, 2015.
Honoured veterans, special guests, ladies and gentlemen, my friends.
It is with tremendous humility and honour that I stand before you today on behalf of Mayor Nenshi and City Council, and share with you these precious moments of remembrance and respect.
One hundred years ago yesterday, a father in Calgary received a letter from Great Britain, informing him that his son, John Turner Bone, had gone missing in France. John Turner Bone was a graduate of Western Canada College – what we now call Western Canada High School – and he was a sub-lieutenant in the British Naval Air Service. It was later reported by cable that the young Calgary aviator had perished on October 18, 1915. The name John Turner Bone would be etched into the stone of the Cenotaph at Western Canada, and it can be seen there today.
Yesterday, I laid a wreath on that stone. I was surrounded by the students of Western Canada, the high school I myself attended. They lined up outside, many more could be seen peeking through the windows from their classrooms above.
They were solemn. They were silent. They were the same age as John was when he gave his life, and they knew it.
John lived here. Like the students I saw around me yesterday, John was born on one side of a century, and he lived to see great change on the other. His feet, I’m sure, passed over this very spot. He grew up with his family here, he laughed with his friends here, he started to become a man here. Because of John, and his compatriots, this place is sacred.
Can you imagine what this city looked like 100 years ago yesterday, when John’s father received the mail that told of his son’s death?
Take a moment to think of it.
It’s important, because everything you see around you now – the towers, the homes, the bookstore, the church, the hospital, the community, the city, this beautiful and fitting park – all of this, every square inch, we owe to John Bone. We are building this city and this country on his dreams as well as our own. And how perfect is it that John’s fellow students at Western Canada, who walk in his footsteps exactly one hundred years later, understand his sacrifice and seek to become better because of it.
We are better because of John Bone. We are a nation because of this young man. We dream our biggest dreams in freedom and in dignity because of him, and because of every man and woman who have fought for this great country and continue to do so this very day.
We are here today because of them, and for them, and with them. And we will always remember them.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.