The celebrations launched last week to mark the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II provide Canadians with an opportunity to honour the Queen for her remarkable legacy and to reflect on the many admirable qualities she has exhibited throughout her reign.
Wherever she goes and with whomever she meets, Elizabeth is a powerful reminder that in this troubled and increasingly turbulent world, the qualities of dignity and grace, tradition and service have a place. We should continue to strive for them.
We don't have to be avid monarchists to appreciate the Queen. Her sheer length of reign and commitment to service merit celebration. It would be accurate to say most Canadians don't remember when Elizabeth wasn't on the throne. In a fast-changing world, where nations are reshaped and leaders come and go, Queen Elizabeth II has been a steadfast symbol of stability and continuity.
But equally significant about the Diamond Jubilee celebrations is that they aren't simply about the Queen. They're also an occasion to celebrate the many acts of service by many ordinary Canadians who through their volunteer work, commitment and generosity have enriched the quality of life for countless Canadians in communities across this country. Here in P.E.I., for example, Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis handed out Diamond Jubilee medals to six Islanders for their exemplary service. This service spanned everything from work with aboriginal youth and people with disabilities to dedication to health-care services, music, heritage and the environment.
Such presentations are vital not only because the recipients merit the honour, but because they remind us of the importance of community and the vital role each citizen can play in the building up of that community. Where would we be without those who give of their time and talent to make life better for all of us? They move in our midst every day without notice or mention. But like the Queen in her own example of service and commitment, they're an inspiration to all of us.
Honouring a fallen soldier
The decision by the City of Summerside to name one of its streets after Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, is a fitting one. It honours the memory of one of the city's own and serves as a reminder for all Islanders that the war in Afghanistan has cost us dearly.
Warrant Officer Mellish was one of four Canadian soldiers killed Sept. 3, 2006 by Taliban insurgents. A native of Truro, N.S., he moved to Summerside at age 12 and considered the city and the Island his home.
The impact of Mellish's death was summed up this way by Joyce Phillips, a member of Summerside's Lest We Forget committee: "It was the first time in this generation that the war visibly came back to P.E.I. It was one of our own coming back."
In a world fraught with conflict, we can become numb to the reality of war. But there's always a personal cost. The ultimate price paid by Warrant Officer Mellish reminds us of this reality and it's appropriate that the city is honouring him in this manner. Representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion, 200 Wing and the Lest We Forget Committee deserve credit for championing this worthy cause.