After the Great War, Canada was never the same. More than 600,000 of a population of barely eight million served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Of those, 60,000 were killed and another 154,000 wounded. Such losses are on a scale that Canadians today might find hard to fathom. Yet the enormous sacrifices made by our soldiers, and the fierce reputation they earned at places like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, not only helped to secure victory but earned Canada its place in the world.
Our living bond to the First World War has almost been severed. Only three veterans of that heroic Canadian army remain: Lloyd Clemett, 106, John Babcock, 106, and Dwight Wilson, 105. The government of Canada should commit now to provide a state funeral for the last of them.
A state funeral is the highest honour a country can offer any individual. But in this case, such a funeral would honour more than one man. Through him, it would honour all who served. So many men sacrificed so much for God, king and country during those terrible years, 1914 to 1918, and, despite the best efforts of veterans' organizations, so many passed away in recent decades without the accrual of honour they deserved. It is time Canadians owned up to the debt they owe that great generation, nearly passed. The way to accomplish that is not by a "national day of mourning" or a "day of commemoration" -- artificial constructs that would likely fall below the nation's radar -- but by a state funeral.
By tradition, state funerals are reserved for current or former governors-general, current or former prime ministers, or other eminences so designated by the government. This is one occasion when an exception to the rule is mandated. There are precedents. Australia held a federal state funeral for the last survivor of the Gallipoli campaign. Britain has not gone that far, but has announced that a national memorial service will be held after the death of the last known First World War veteran. That service will be held in Westminster Abbey and will be preceded by a memorial procession. It might not be called a state funeral, but it has most of the trappings.
There is but one way to impress upon the minds of every Canadian, old and young, the scale of what Canadian soldiers accomplished during the First World War. There is but one way to ensure that the concept of remembrance is more than a generalized duty to a proud military heritage and is recognized for what it is: a way to give thanks for the gift of freedom given many peoples and the attainment of nationhood for our own. And that is for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer a solemn, religious state funeral to the family of the last veteran resident in Canada of the Great War. Let Canada put one face on the sacrifice of a generation.
AND WHEREAS a defeat for monarchy and for the people in any one Realm, is a defeat for monarchy and for all our peoples in all our Realms, we do hereby mutually proclaim therefore that any further acts of disloyalty carried out against our peoples as represented by their Sovereign, or any further encroachment by the political elite on their residual powers of State, or any further attempts to undermine the legitimacy, independence and dignity of their office, shall no longer be tolerated with gradualist abandonment, but fought vigilantly and honourably with dutiful obligation, bound by our undying affection, loyal devotion and true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors.
WHEREAS by the law and ancient usage of this Realm, the Kings and Queens thereof have taken a solemn oath upon the Evangelists at their respective coronations, to maintain the statutes, laws, and customs of the said Realm, and all the people and inhabitants thereof, in their spiritual and civil rights and properties: but forasmuch as the oath itself on such occasion administered, hath heretofore been framed in doubtful words and expressions, with relation to ancient laws and constitutions at this time unknown: to the end therefore that one uniform oath may be in all times to come taken by the Kings and Queens of this Realm, and to them respectively administered at the times of their and every of their coronation: may it please your Majesties that it may be enacted:
II. And be it enacted by the King's and Queen's most excellent majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That the oath herein mentioned, and hereafter expressed, shall and may be administered to their most excellent majesties King William and Queen Mary (whom God long preserve) at the time of their coronation, in the presence of all persons that shall be then and there present at the solemnizing thereof, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Archbishop of York, or either of them, or any other bishop of this Realm, whom the King's majesty shall thereunto appoint, and who shall be hereby thereunto respectively authorized; which oath followeth, and shall be administered in this manner; that is to say,
III. [Inserting for Section III of the Act the 1689 oath taken by Her Majesty The Queen on Tuesday, 2 June 1953 amid great public rejoicing]
Archbishop: Madam, is your Majesty willing to take the Oath?
The Queen: I am willing.
Archbishop: Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?
The Queen: I solemnly promise so to do.
Archbishop: Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?
The Queen: I will.
Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?
The Queen: All this I promise to do.
Then the Queen arising out of her Chair, supported as before, the Sword of State being carried before her, shall go to the Altar, and make her solemn Oath in the sight of all the people to observe the premisses: laying her right hand upon the Holy Gospel in the great Bible (which was before carried in the procession and is now brought from the Altar by the Arch-bishop, and tendered to her as she kneels upon the steps), and saying these words:
The Queen: The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.
IV. And be it enacted, That the said oath shall be in like manner administered to every King and Queen, who shall succeed to the imperial crown of this Realm, at their respective coronations, by one of the archbishops or bishops of this Realm of England, for the time being, to be thereunto appointed by such King or Queen respectively, and in the presence of all persons that shall be attending, assisting, or otherwise present at such their respective coronations; any law, statute, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.
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