COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — Veterans of the 1944 Normandy landings gathered Thursday at the site of history’s largest amphibious invasion for a day of ceremonies marking D-Day’s 69th anniversary.
D-Day is considered a turning point in the Second World War.
In the June 6, 1944 battle, Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen joined soldiers from other Allied nations in gaining a foothold in occupied Europe. The success achieved in Normandy helped pave the way to final victory in Europe on May 8, 1945.
Eve Adams, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney, was in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, on Thursday to represent Canada at the anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy at a ceremony at Juno Beach.
Adams also participated in commemorative ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach, the National Guard Monument in Vierville-sur-Mer, and the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers.
In a statement from Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Canadians to pause to recall and honour the noble sacrifices of the heroes who turned the tide of the war on June 6, 1944.
“By the evening of June 6, 1944, Canadian troops had progressed further inland than any of their Allies — a proud and remarkable accomplishment,” Harper said.
“The day took a heavy toll. To secure victory on D-Day, 340 Canadians gave their lives, 574 were wounded and 47 taken prisoner,” he said.
Around two dozen American veterans, some in their old uniforms pinned with medals, stood and saluted during a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial overlooking Omaha Beach, where a U.S. cemetery holds the remains of more than 9,000 Americans who died during the vicious battle to storm the beach under withering Nazi fire.
A full day of ceremonies — including fireworks, concerts and marches — was taking place across Normandy in honour of the more than 150,000 troops, mainly Canadian, U.S., and British, who risked or gave their lives in the invasion.
“The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory!” U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led Allied forces, said in an historic address after the invasion was launched.
— with files from The Associated Press