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Date: February 22, 2010
The Honourable Peter G. MacKay
Minister of National Defence Ministre de la Défense nationale
Private Jeremiah Jones
Presentation of the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26
Truro, Nova Scotia
• Good afternoon, your Honour Mayann Francis Lt. Gov of NS, distinguished guests, the descendents of Jeremiah Jones, his close family and friends that are with us here today, men and women of the Canadian Forces, ladies and gentlemen:
• Today’s ceremony is another bittersweet chapter in the history of the Canadian military and its relationship with the black community.
• For countless years, the heroic acts and deeds of our black soldiers, sailors, air men and air women and civilian employees have gone unnoticed and unrecognized.
• Today we change that.
• Today is a celebration of Private Jeremiah Jones’ brave and unselfish contribution to winning the battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
• He, along with 15 other Black soldiers in the 106th Battalion, Nova Scotia Rifles, were assigned to the Royal Canadian Regiment, and saw action on the front line.
• As we know, he single-handedly neutralized a German machine gun bunker and captured those who survived his grenade attack.
• What is unclear, is why he was never formally recognized for what he did.
• I can tell you that the Canadian government is proud of the steps taken to foster a country that is inclusive and respects all the people who proudly make this country what it is.
• The Jones family is justifiably proud of Jeremiah’s valiant sacrifice – as we all are -- as he put his life on the line that April day in 1917.
• All Canadians should be proud and humbled that this man from Truro fought for the freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law which we enjoy today.
• It is the same pride I see today from Canadians for the men and women in uniform who stand on guard for us at home or abroad in missions to create stability and freedom.
• Along with our presence in Afghanistan, Canadian Forces members are providing badly needed and essential humanitarian relief to Haiti.
• And we are at the Olympics, ensuring a safe environment for athletes and spectators.
• On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to say thank you to Jeremiah Jones and his family for their sacrifices for Canada.
• I would like to recognize, in a formal way, the selfless dedication to duty of the late Pte. Jeremiah Jones that has been overdue for so long.
• His tale of bravery, courage and gallantry is finally being justly recognized.