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Video of Lieutenant(Navy) Jeff Lura delivering a speech intended for 9- to 14-year-old youths

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Thank you for inviting me to speak to you this Veterans' Week.

I am a proud officer of the Royal Canadian Navy currently working at Canadian Joint Operations Command in Ottawa.

When I'm not at sea in one of Her Majesty's Canadian Ships of meeting new people in all sorts of different countries, I spend my days supporting our men and women deployed overseas and making sure that Canadians know about the great work that they are doing on your behalf.

But today, I'm honoured to have the opportunity to talk to you about our veterans and how their sacrifices have made possible the freedom and peace that we enjoy in Canada. Their stories inspire those of us who wear the Canadian uniform today and it's important that we all continue to share the stories about how courageous and selfless our veterans have been. That's the best way to show our gratitude and contribute to the important work of passing their legacy on.

So, my stories are going to be about Canadians who have made our country and the world a better place during those three different times in our history.

First, I want to tell you about the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. How many of you have heard of D-Day before? So, you probably know that D-Day was a very important victory during the Second World War when Canadians and other democracies were fighting in Europe against Nazi Germany.

Of course, the people who were fighting at the time, people like Arnott England, didn't know if they would win or lose that battle.

Arnott was from Tabusintac, a small quiet town in New Brunswick. Can you try to imagine what that was like for him? In the early morning, darkness of D-Day at just 21 years of age, he was crossing the English Channel into France.

He was one of the 14 000 Canadians that were part of a massive surprise Allied amphibious assault.

In addition to the Canadians, there were American and British contingents as well.

The mission that day was for each of those three groups to take back a sector of France's Normandy coastline from the Nazis.

The Canadians headed for Juno Beach, which was defended by landmines, barbed wire, artillery, machine guns and thousands of enemy soldiers. Picture it.

The sky screamed with shells and warplanes. Many of the soldiers were seasick from the high waves that rocked their small landing craft. Many of them had to wade onto the beach through neck-high water under heavy fire, desperately trying to hold their guns overhead to keep them dry and working.

All of the kept going even though there were bodies of fellow soldiers, sometimes men they recognized floating around in the water and lying on the sand.

359 Canadians sacrificed their lives that day, but that was just the beginning of the end of the Second World War because the Canadians and our allies were able to push the Germans back from that beach.

Over the next few months, Arnott and the other allies kept pushing inland until France's entire region of Normandy was liberated. They faced many grueling battles and though Arnott survived, over 5000 Canadians were killed and 13 000 injured.

The liberated countries of North-Western Europe still honour the Canadians who helped them reclaim their freedom.

By the time the Second World War ended, over 1 million Canadians and served in the Armed Forces, but even those 1 million Canadians were supported by millions of others.

Canadians like yourselves helped as well. Since many able-bodied men and women were overseas, there was no way to harvest crops without additional labour. Students filled the gap to keep up the food supply.

Schools didn't take attendance in the fall since so many kids and teens were working long hard hours on the farms during the harvest. Because supplies were scarce, youth and children also collected tons of scrap that could be reused. And they often used money they earned from their jobs to buy war saving stamps that contributed millions of dollars to the war effort.

These sorts of actions by young people like yourselves were admired in Canadian society and made a real positive difference. We must be grateful that so many Canadians helped bring peace.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO.

How many of you have heard of NATO?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was founded in 1949 because the democratic countries of the North Atlantic region found themselves in a militarized standoff with the Soviet Union and its Communist allies. This Cold War was complex, dangerous and involved the threat of nuclear weapons. To protect themselves, North American and European nations agreed that they would fight for each other if one was threatened.

Ever since, Canada and our NATO allies have been working together to protect our common values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law and to maintain stability and peace in the region.

Even after the Cold War, new challenges to peace, freedom and democracy materialized.

In the 1990s, ten of thousands of Canadians were sent through NATO to stabilize the former Yugoslavia after it collapsed into ethnic warfare.

After the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks on the United States, NATO took a lead role in international efforts to fight terrorist threats.

And even today, Canadians like Commodore Josée Kurtz, from Joliette, Quebec, are patrolling on the Black Sea in a frigate Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Toronto to keep Central and Eastern Europe stable and secure.

This summer, Commodore Kurtz became the first woman to command a Standing NATO fleet of warships.

We fully expect that your generation will also include leaders like Commodore Kurtz and that NATO will continue to be the most successful military and political alliance in history.

The third important anniversary we are commemorating this year stems from the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks that I mentioned earlier. After those attacks, Canada joined in a mission to eliminate the terrorist threat in Afghanistan and bring peace and stability to that country.

It was the biggest deployment of Canadians troops since the Second World War ending just five years ago.

Captain Nichola Goddard was one of the 40 000 Canadians who served in that mission. Can you imagine the courage it takes to ride in the topmost position of this armoured vehicle and spot targets? That's what a Forward Observation Officer does. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the army and it was Captain Goddard's job in Afghanistan.

During an ambush on her convoy, Captain Goddard called for artillery support and in doing so put herself at great risk.

Unfortunately, during that ambush, she was killed by enemy fire.

Again in Afghanistan, our troops like Captain Goddard performed their duties with exceptional bravery.

In our Acts of Remembrance this year, many current Canadian Armed Forces members like myself and many of the families and friends of our military personnel and veterans who served in Afghanistan will be thinking of that mission on Remembrance Day.

The Canadian Armed Forces lost 158 service people in the war in Afghanistan and related operations. We also lost 7 Canadian civilians and 40 American soldiers who were serving under Canadian command at the time of their death.

Every year, military personnel stand with ten of thousands of other Canadians at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to remember these and all of our veterans during the Annual National Remembrance Day Ceremony.

Many Canadians participate in the Write to the Troops program to thank our veterans for their service on operations abroad or for assistance at home during disasters like floods and wildfires.

Many Canadians visit war monuments and museums across the country and across the globe to lay a wreath or have a personal moment of silence.

I am lucky enough to spend Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial here in Ottawa. It's always very cold, but seeing so many Canadians packing the streets to remember the sacrifices of our veterans always keeps me warm.

There are many ways to remember the sacrifices of our veterans and to keep their legacy alive.

What really matters is that we make the choice to remember and that we never forget.

Thank you for choosing to remember our veterans with me today.

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