As you have seen and experienced this week is so much more than a sporting event. It is a platform for positive change. The ripple of respect has been felt far and wide and we hope you too are feeling it deeply.
And I'm sure you're all physically exhausted. Who wouldn't be? But I also hope that you are mentally stronger than when you arrived. We may have provided the platform, but you provided the magic. And don't you ever forget that.
We've all witnessed the true impact sport has had on your recovery and on your post-traumatic growth. But you will never truly know the impact that your actions this week have had on millions of people around the world.
You have opened people's hearts through your vulnerability, through your resilience, and through your sheer abilities. You have shown us that joy can emerge from struggle, and for that we are eternally grateful.
A week ago, I stood here and told you about the significance of being able to wear your nation's flag again.
And so many of you have told me that that hit you right here.
For many of you, the uniform you've been wearing this past week will give you a new story to tell.
And for others, it may give your old uniform new meaning.
But I'm here to remind you that after all this, you don't need to rely on a uniform, nor should you ever feel lost without one. Why? Because everything you need is already within you.
Tomorrow, you will each walk away with memories that are different and unique to you.
But my hope is that every memory made brings a smile to your face through a sense of belonging and an opportunity for you and your family to look forward with pride and with purpose.
Yesterday, I met with Master Corporal James Gendron from the Canadian team in the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 tent.
James, where are you? While we were chatting, I noticed bagpipes lying on the floor in the far corner.
Some of you may know what bagpipes mean to me, so I couldn't help but hope that they’d be played. Little did I know that 30 minutes later, it would be James picking them up and offering to play. Yet I had no idea what they meant to him. Nor did I know what memories they triggered for him. In Afghanistan He played 63 ramp ceremonies.
For 63 caskets.
For 63 souls.
For 63 families.
For four years after that last ceremony, he couldn't touch them. This week, he wasn't even sure whether he could bring himself to play them.
But he did. What had once haunted him, dare I say it, may now be what helps heal him. Thank you, James, for your service. For your courage. And for sharing your gift.
So many of you and your loved ones have been to the darkest places imaginable. But your mission to heal and grow has been a shining example to us all.
You've shown us the power in not defining people by assumption or their backstory or past pain.
But rather instead on their ability, how they show up and who they are in the present.
After this week, know that you are all leading the way for defining human potential and human decency. We value you. We need you. And the world does too.
And next year, we've got a lot to look forward to.
The Invictus Games Foundation 10-year anniversary, yes, 10 years!
And then it’s off to Vancouver Whistler 2025.
Germany, thank you so much for the reception and the respect that you've given every single competitor and their family and friends.
You have raised the bar here. How much higher can we go in Canada? I'll see you there. Thank you.
Highlights from the Closing Ceremony of the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023: Content