To-day I watched the 70th Anniversary Ceremonies of D-Day. That day when the world witness the largest amphibious military operation in history and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. To-day at the different locations along the Normandy coast veterans of the American, British, Canadian, and Free French forces gathered to celebrate and remember. Remember the friends that were left behind either at the waters’ edge or further inland as the advance progressed. The faces are old now and the bodies not those of the brave young men who stormed ashore to breach the “Atlantic Wall: and Festung Europa” no to-day we looked into the faces of the 80 plus years old men and saw the remembrance in their eyes or the slow trickle of a tear working its’ way down the wrinkled and furrowed cheek. They were young once and brave they thought themselves invincible but the bubble that they thought they lived in was burst by the horrors of war around them. The noise, smoke, and the cries round them jarred against their nerves. The sight of a body perhaps someone they knew laying mangled in the sand. The retching smell of blood, feces, and burnt flesh searing their throats and lungs. Just enduring took bravery the likes most of us will never know.
6 June 1944, the Longest Day (Langsten Tag) for those who fought their way up those beaches and through the fortifications. Fortification manned by some of the best battle hardened troops in the Germany forces. The roughly 60 miles of beach east to west was divided into 5 landing areas, Sword, Juno, Gold. Omaha, and Utah. Omaha and Utah were assigned to the Americans, Gold and Sword were British, and Juno was Canadian. To-day watching the ceremonies at Juno Beach where the Canadians stormed ashore I saw the faces of those who made it possible for me to be brought up in my adopted country the best in the world. My mother was a war widow as my biological Father had died in Italy 31 days before D-Day she remarried a Canadian Chap who brought us to Canada in 1947 when I was 5 years old. Although my blood might be that of Scotland my home is Canada as it is the home to my two daughters. The veteran men with their weathered faces were once you8ng and full of life they are also the fortunate ones as they came home where so many others didn’t. Forty-five thousand four hundred lay buried in the cemeteries of Europe or in water graves of the Atlantic over forty-five thousand from a Nation of eleven million at the time. These young boys and girls who rallied to the colours and stood in harms’ way can never be repaid for their sacrifice and those who gave THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE deserve so much that in a hundred generation it will never be repaid. If the phrase “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” has any worthwhile meaning then it is because of these young lions from all allied nations.
The 70th Anniversary is now part of History and the next big one will be the 75th but it will have lesser old warriors in attendance because time ravages us all and to everything there ‘must come an end. This coming 28th of July will mark the start of World War One (The War to end all Wars) perhaps the most senseless of wars to date. In this abattoir called the Western Front a nation shall come of age and the world will know that Canada has arrived.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
LEST WE FORGET