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Video of Lieutenant(Navy) Melanie Aqiqi delivering a speech intended for all ages

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Thank you for inviting me to speak to you this Veterans' Week. My name is Lieutenant Navy Melanie Aqiqi. I'm proud to serve as a regular Forces Public Affairs Officer in Ottawa.

Normally, my day is spent engaging with people like you, members of the public, and members of the media to make sure that we answer the questions that are important to you.

But today, I have the special honour of speaking to you about the remarkable sacrifice that our military members have made for Canada. They risked their lives so that we can live in a better world. And their stories inspire those of us who serve today.

Today, I'm going to talk about some of the people who contributed exceptional military service to Canada.

The first anniversary I'll highlight is the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Let me introduce to you to Arnott England. Arnott was from Tabusintac, a small quiet town in New Brunswick. But 75 years ago, in the early morning hours of June 6th, at just 21 years of age, he was crossing the English Channel into France in a massive amphibious attack that is famously remembered as D-Day.

Imagine being Arnott, one of the 150 000 Allied troops involved, 40 000 of them Canadians.

Could he have known that the course of the Second World War would turn on this one day?

They knew that the Canadian British and American contingents each had a sector of France's Normandy coastline to take back from the Nazis that day.

And they knew that many of them would not be coming home. What Arnott and the other Canadians could not yet know was that they would achieve and outstanding victory.

359 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice that day. Arnott and the other troops who survived then pushed further inland to take back the region of Normandy from the Germans.

In this grueling battle, 5000 more Canadians were killed and 13 000 injured.

The liberated countries of Northwestern Europe still celebrate Canadians like Arnott who helped them reclaim their freedom.

Over 1 million Canadians served in the fight against Nazi's tyranny and 45 000 lost their lives. It was their sacrifice that allows us to live in peace today.

The second important commemoration is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO was created because the democratic countries of the North Atlantic region found themselves in a dangerous Cold War with the Soviet Union and its Communist allies.

So, we banded together in a collective defence pact to protect our common values.

The Cold War ended in 1991, but new challenges to peace, freedom and democracy had materialized, which demonstrates the continued need for this alliance.

In the 1990s, thousands of Canadian military personnel helped stabilize the former Yugoslavia after its violent collapse.

After the September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States, NATO took a lead role in fighting the terrorists' threats. And today, Canadians like Commodore Josée Kurtz from Joliette, Quebec, work alongside our allies.

This summer, she became the first woman to command Standing NATO fleet of warships, helping to keep Central and Eastern Europe secure. She is one of thousands of Canadians who have served with NATO over the last 70 years, helping making it one of the most successful military and political alliances ever.

The third important anniversary we are commemorating this year involves the September 11, 2011 terrorists' attacks. After those attacks, Canada joined the mission to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and its citizens.

Captain Nichola Goddard was one of the 40 000 Canadians who served in that mission which ended just five years ago. Can you imagine the courage it takes to ride atop this armoured vehicle and spot targets?

That 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.

This Remembrance Day, Canadian Armed Forces members like myself will be thinking of the 158 service personnel and 7 civilians we lost in the war in Afghanistan and the 40 Americans who were serving under Canadian command in Afghanistan at the time of their death.

Every year in Ottawa, ten of thousands of Canadians stand together during the Annual National Remembrance Day Ceremony to honour these and all of our veterans.

Many Canadians participate in the Write to the Troops program to thank our veterans for their service at home and abroad.

Many Canadians visit war monuments across the country to have a personal moment of silence.

There are many ways to remember the sacrifices of our veterans.

What really matters, though, is that we do make the choice to remember.

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