HCOL Parade Speech to the Regiment : April 23, 2024

Bryan Brulotte - Unity. Prosperity. Compassion. #CanadaUnited

Général Eyre, sénateur Patterson, l’honorable Madame Lalonde, le Colonel MaKay, la Révérende Catherine, officiers, membres du Regiment, mesdames et messieurs, amis.

It is so inspiring to be among the broader Regimental Family and share some brief remarks.

For those on parade, your professionalism, discipline, and drill have been in keeping with the finest traditions of the Guards.  For this, I thank Regimental Sargeant Major Vitol, and his NCO’s.  As your Honorary Colonel for the past decade, it was a privilege for me to inspect you in my final act.

We are joined at this ceremony by life-long comrades who I have known since the beginning of my military journey in 1978. 

  • The Army Cadets with the Royal Canadian Hussars.
  • College Militaire Royal.
  • Royal 22e Regiment: and
  • The Governor General’s Foot Guards.

From my civilian life, there are colleagues from:

  • MaxSys,
  • St Johns Ambulance,
  • The Orders of St Joachim, and the Order of St John. 
  • And of course, politics.

Here present, is an assembly of great Canadians, and I am truly gratified by your presence, your example, and your friendship.

Plus important encore, je souhaite partager ma profonde gratitude à ma famille. Je n’aurais pas pu profiter de la carrière enrichissante qui s’est déroulée sans leur soutien. Merci.

This parade square is sacred ground. These halls echo the heroic sacrifice of thousands of Guardsmen. Since 1872, our Regiment has gloriously served Canada:

  • Privates Osgood and Rogers, our first casualties who died for Canada at Cut Knife Hill;
  • The 1545 Guardsmen who died for Canada in the First World War
  • The 115 Guardsmen who died for Canada in the Second World War,
  • And most recently in Afghanistan; the exemplary service of Capt John Mackela awarded the Medal of Bravery, and Colour Sargeant Dom Kowlessar awarded the Sacrifice Medal.

The battle honours emblazoned on the Colours before us are a demonstrable testament of the Regiments’ service to our Country. 

These battle honours must be celebrated, and revered for what they are.  Powerful symbols of our courage in war that inspire us.

We are eternally grateful to those Guardsmen, upon whose shoulders we stand today.  As a People, Canadians must thank Providence, and keep the faith with those who held the torch before us.

In 1987, fresh out of military college, I was an infantry platoon commander, stationed in West Germany.  At that time, Canada had a deployed brigade with battle positions straddling the Iron Curtain.  I can distinctly recall a euphoric moment of hope, me standing at the Brandenburg Gate, hammering at the concreate of the Berlin Wall on November 10th 1989. 

Well, 35 years have passed. Alas, compared to that Cold War era, the world has become immeasurably more volatile.  Much like when Europe held its breath in 1938, today, we stand at a precipice. The war to save Ukraine has confirmed that we need hard and tough soldiers.  As Foot Guards, we must brace ourselves to our duty. The purpose of the Regiment as a combat unit is singular and clear.  To close with, and destroy the enemy.  Prevail.

The Foot Guards battle tested Regimental system is indispensable.  Its’ lineage, badges, battle history, music, social customs, conventions, expectations, training regimes and attire, is designed to purpose.  It has served us exceedingly well for over 150 years in the defence of Canada, and Western Civilization.  

The military ethos that Foot Guards embrace, is as vital as the air we breathe.  Timeless truths, such as Grit, Fitness, Discipline, Uniformity, Service, Sacrifice, Merit, Excellence, and Mission Primacy, are a way of life. They are the coin of the realm, and will be our keys to success in a lethal fight.

One of my earliest childhood memories, is the summer of 1968. At the age of four, held aloft on my late fathers’ shoulders, I was mesmerized by the precision and majesty of our Regiment conducting the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill. At that moment, 56 years ago, I knew I wanted to be a Guardsman.  

Since 1872, for every generation of Foot Guards, it has started with a similar call to serve.  

For Guardsmen, discovering the purpose and belonging earned with the title.  

In our arduous infantry training, learning to dig deep through adversity, together.

Unified in our belief of defending our Country. Understanding that our profession is a life of great worth and reward.

But Guardsmen are never really finished serving. Their commitment comes full circle.  As witnessed by the audience tonight.  Foot Guards continue in our communities across Canada in many walks of life.

The Foot Guards are a part of the Canadian dream. Wonderfully launched by Sir John A. MacDonald in 1867. Our Regiment has been graced with extraordinary Honorary Colonels. Over the past 10 years, three have served as my role models in this appointment:

  • Field Marshall, Viscount George Byng of Vimy, who led the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge,
  • Le général Georges Vanier, héros de guerre et gouverneur général lors de l’année du centenaire du pays en 1967.
  • And of course, the illustrious and perhaps infamous… Col Strome Galloway.

Col Galloway, left us in 2004 at the age of 88. With his bristling moustache, the Colonel was one of the Canadian Army’s “legends”. A battle hardened infantry officer, noted for exceptional bravery, coolness under fire, maintenance of impeccable social and grooming standards, as well as, the care of his men.  He is the author of the ultimate leadership guide to subalterns, unsubtly titled “Pigs have Wings”.

Permit me now to turn my full attention to those on parade. You are the best of Canada’s citizenry.  You are selfless and thus ennobled. There are three major points that make this so:

First: As Guards, we embrace the highest standards in discipline, personal appearance, integrity, fighting spirit, and courteous conduct.  High performance organizations aspire to excellence. With impeccable standards comes exceptionalism.  You are Guards, IT IS THE WAY! be proud… own it.

Second:  You are a soldier of the King… every day we practice one of three things:  Musketry, Fitness and Battle Craft.  To omit this responsibility is to steal the King’s shilling.  Remember: musketry-fitness-battle craft.

Third: We are decisive.    Guards have the courage to fail forward.  We know that being wrong and trying something without success is OK. It is the only way we can evolve and grow.

The Foot Guards know that soldiers seek inspiration and meaning in their lives. The Regiment often serves this purpose. For me, an equally profound source is the Victorian Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson …especially poignant is the last line of his stirring monologue Ulysses.  Where the King, defines his life’s ambition as “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”.        In other words; the search for adventure, that makes our lives worth living.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not thank HLCol Mark Matherson for his service and welcome our two appointed Honoraries. Col honoraire Omar Abouzaher et LCol honoraire Fran Chilton-Mackay. Tous deux sont des piliers exemplaires et hautement accomplis de la communauté, et méritent clairement la confiance qui leur a été accordée. Col Omar et Col Fran, je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès et la bienvenue a vos conjointes Hanandi et Dan.

On a final note. Six years ago, Her Majesty, our late Colonel in Chief, hosted a private audience for myself, the LCC and RSM at Buckingham Palace. Aged 92, she set a sterling example of effortless grace, teaching us that a life of service is a life well lived.  Her lesson is one I take to heart.  Rest assured that for me, this is not a good-bye, it is but an au-revoir.  There are still many things left to do for our Regiment, our Armed Forces, and our Country.

May God bless you, your family, and your loved ones. Up the Guards!