Today we commemorated the D-Day landings with a series of ceremonies. We began the day at 8am (the time of the landings) at Canada House on Juno Beach, a house that stood in the same location on 6 June 1944 as it does today. The weather was much like it had been 73 years ago, windy, rainy, and cold. As we stood huddled together in a group we thought about the Canadian boys who withstood much worse conditions that day than we did. The ceremony at Canada House involved locals and Canadian Battlefields Foundation members, and a few veterans were introduced to the group. Following the ceremony we had the opportunity to speak with two veterans, one British and the other from British Columbia. They were overwhelmed by emotions and so happy to hear that young Canadians were here to learn about the wars and honour those who were lost.
In the afternoon, we went to the Juno Beach Centre to take part in their ceremony. Another student (also named Sarah) and I laid a wreath together on behalf of the Canadian Battlefield Foundation. Due to the weather, we had to quickly lay the wreaths then proceed inside to a meeting room for the rest of the ceremony. Unfortunately there was limited space so most of our group was unable to see the ceremony. The Canadian veteran we met in the morning shared his story with the group which was very moving. He talked about his experiences on D-Day and making his way through to western Germany. He said that many German people felt as if they had been liberated by the Canadians as well because they were living in oppression under the rule of Hitler and the Nazis. The ceremony continued with the playing of the Marseillaise, God Save the Queen, and O Canada by a brass band. The music was stirring as we were in a small space, and it was great to hear the anthems played live.
Sarah and I introduced ourselves to many of the people involved with the ceremony, including the Canadian Ambassador to France and the owners of Canada House. It was a bit funny to watch their faces as one of us would introduce ourselves in French and the other would say “my name is Sara(h) too!” It certainly made things easier to remember!
Following the Juno Beach Centre ceremony we proceeded to the Beny-sur-Mer cemetery for the final one of the day. More students from our group placed wreaths and many of the same individuals involved with the other two ceremonies were there as well. We also heard from the same brass band as before, this time outdoors.
Overall, it was a very nice day of ceremonies in honour of those who fought on D-Day. We will remember them.