Thousands of people are on the beaches and towns of Normandy, France, as the anniversary of Allied landings approaches.
The historic event that led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi control is just a day away.
Among those visitors is a group of young Canadian soldiers and reservists seeing for themselves the battlefields and sacrifices made by other young Canadian soldiers, who like them, were volunteers in the military. After visiting Juno Beach itself they joined with others, veterans, visitors, and descendants to take part in the ceremony to commemorate Canadian fallen at the Beny-sur-Mer cemetery.
BGen. (ret’d) Ernest Beno and Master Bombardier Stacey Harris of Lethbridge, Alberta spoke to us by mobile phone from the Canadian cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer.
Canada’s military is an all-volunteer force, as was the case over seven decades ago. All the young soldiers in the army, air force, and navy who took part in the D-Day invasion were themselves volunteers
who had left the security of their homes in Canada. They were farmers, store clerks, bank managers, industrial workers, lumberjacks, fishermen, and miners. They came from all walks of life and from all parts of Canada, to fight for a cause they believed in.
Some in the group on this visit have a special reason to be at the cemetery. They want to visit particular graves such as the two artillery men who had heard the story of Bdr.C.S May, killed when a mine blew up under the jeep he was driving. To know the story is one thing, but to be there at the grave site, was especially moving.
Gunner Johnathan Hemings, 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, left. Gunner Cole Kelloway, 4th General Support Regiment RCA Right.
For an officer like Gen. Beno, the reflection was on the burden weighing on officers of the war who had to make decisions ta send these young men into situations knowing that many would not survive.
The main commemoration ceremonies for this auspicious 75th anniversary will take place tomorrow at Couseulles-sur-mer in the Canadian Juno Beach sector.