Ten Years After 9/11*

*Moderator's Note: This article was original published in The Nova Scotian on 11 September 2011.

At approximately 9:00 am this morning, the United States Consul-General to Halifax will be joined by a small group of dignitaries at Halifax Stanfield International Airport for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 11 September 2001.

This event will forever be etched in our minds.  We remember what this meant to us as Canadians – as neighbours to the United States, and in a global context.  We recognized that our world was not safe, and was far from perfect. Our thoughts and our deepest sympathies go out today to the victims and the loved ones of those affected by the tragedy.  We recognize that we are part of the same fabric, and share some of the same sense of loss as in the United States.

The impact to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes was felt not just in the tragedy of the event, but in a very real and tangible way as we opened our homes and our hearts those who were stranded.  The plaque at Halifax Airport is meant to express the gratitude of the American people to the many Canadians, such as those in Halifax and Gander that welcomed the passengers that had been diverted from American airspace. The effects of the ‘lock-down’ of the American ‘homeland’ were felt far beyond America’s borders and the impacts of America’s response had far-reaching consequences that continue to this day.

The impact to the navy and its response was also profound. It was only natural for Canada to support our American ally during those dark days and HMCS Halifax was first out the door to set sail on Operation Apollo, our counter-terrorism mission in the Arabian Sea. She would eventually be joined by additional Canadian ships and a full Canadian Task Group.  The navy’s response was the largest Canadian naval operation since the Korean War involving close to 4000 deployed naval and air personnel at its peak.

It also became apparent that there was no short-term solution to this new threat.  The events of 9/11 and the resulting action taken to defend our perimeter have had far-reaching effects.  Our involvement continues to this day and for the foreseeable future, as we assist the Afghan people in building the capacity to provide their own security.

Your navy continues to be ready to respond.  Recently, HMCS Charlottetown returned home after a mission off the shores of Libya in support of a NATO effort to protect Libyan citizens and ensure stability in the Mediterranean region.  With two days notice, Charlottetown deployed for six months enforcing a maritime embargo and assisting the humanitarian effort.  Charlottetown was stationed in harm’s way within range of the shelling of Misratah by Pro-Gaddafi forces.

The lessons we learned ten years ago after 9/11 have made the navy and our forces what they are today – a flexible force that can respond globally in dangerous areas at short notice when called upon.  Our own security at home is closely tied with areas of instability around the world.  The navy’s ability to quickly respond to crisis at home or abroad is vital to ensuring our security and defence.  We stand ‘Ready Aye Ready’.

In closing, a decade from the date of 11 September, 2001, we remember the tragedy, we remember our unity with our allies to stand against those that would harm us, and we remember that we still have important work to do.