An Introduction by the Hon. Albina Guarnieri

Every nation’s identity is defined by the great struggles that mark its history.  For Canadians, many of those defining struggles were waged an ocean away from our shores.  None were more epic in scale or more noble in purpose than Canada’s campaign to liberate Italy from 1943 to 1945. From small towns across our vast nation, one hundred thousand young men sacrificed their youth to free an ancient land.  They battled from Sicily to Monte Cassino, Ortona, and Rome.  They blazed a trail of heroism, and left a legacy of peace.

In 2004, during my tenure as Minister of Veterans Affairs, I had the privilege of joining more than a hundred of our veterans as they retraced their footsteps through the battlefields of Italy.  In Cesena, Cassino, Ortona and Rimini, we found witnesses to their courage, proof of their humanity, and monuments to their sacrifice. Most of all, we found ourselves in the shadow that is forever cast by those who stood tall in the fight for freedom.

Throughout our journey, Senator Consiglio Di Nino and I were struck by the determination of the Italian people to preserve the history made by our veterans.  Monuments, museums and sacred sites mark their achievements and sacrifices.  The Maple Leaf marks the graves of six thousand Canadians who remain where they fought for the freedom of others.

Immediately upon our return to Canada, we set out on a mission to draw the attention of Canadians to the past that built their present. We declared 2005, Canada’s Year of the Veteran and we began the work of rediscovering a glorious history that was on the brink of fading with an aging generation of heroes.

Today, Senator Di Nino has brought us back together to embark on a new mission to mark the remarkable legacy of the veterans of the Italian Campaign. We aim to bring their history home through a new project we are calling Peace through Valour.   This effort will raise a monument to raise conscientiousness of a most inspiring chapter of our collective history.  It will also launch a web experience to allow a new generation to immerse in the history that was reality for 100,000 of their fellow Canadians.

In 1945, peace was achieved through Canadian valour in Italy. The Peace Through Valour initiative will share that noble history with a new century and with renewed purpose.

The Honorable Albina Guarnieri

Former Minister of Veterans Affairs, May 2012

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