Memorial Wall - Speeches at the Unveiling

Phil Doddridge, President HKVA

Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, and all you wonderful people

This ceremony today marks the fulfilment of a dream, a vision that started years ago when we began to realize that many of our comrades who have left this world, would not be recognized for their valiant efforts of so many years ago.

To many, the defence of Hong Kong was a minor event in comparison to the vast conflict that consumed the world in those anxious and dreadful days of the 1940s. It is no wonder that the war in Europe got headlines while our little war was largely forgotten.

And so, as one of the few remaining Hong Kong Veterans, I am honoured and privileged beyond compare to be here today to express the gratitude of all my comrades for this permanent marker of our place in history.

It is especially fitting that it be installed in our Nation’s Capital, the nucleus of the country we pledged to serve seventy years ago.

As I look at my comrades today, aged, as I am, I recall the slender youths who sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1941, to encounter a well trained and battle-hardened foe.

How innocent of combat we were.

How naïve of the horrors of war.

How far removed from the comforts of home and the good order of peace-time Canada.

How oblivious we were to the many years we would languish in those horror camps.

As I stand before this shrine today, August 15th, 2009, 68 years after receiving our marching orders, all those memories come flooding back; the Canada of the 1940s, the young men in the flush of youth, without a care, completely unaware of what lay ahead.

For this Memorial Wall - our Wall- we have so many people to thank:

The sons, daughters, widows and friends of our veterans who have given so much , who have donated their time, their energy and their money to this cause.

To the committee that made this important event happen, I cannot emphasize enough our thanks for their dedication, their endless meetings, their sleepless nights – all to assure the success of the project. Each and every one has added their wisdom and experience to all matter relating to the planning and construction of this magnificent Wall.

Since the funding campaign started in Calgary two years ago, it has kept rolling without pause.

So many people have listened to our story, So many have helped with money and encouragement.

And now, we are here today. The moment of truth has arrived.

I salute my comrades here today. I salute the memory of my comrades who have left this world.

And so, until this stone disintegrates and returns to dust, we will be remembered.

May we all from our place in the hereafter, be able to look down upon this marble monument and say, "My name is written there. I am remembered."

Philip Doddridge