Historic patch connects past with present
Watch above: In Edmonton, the 70th anniversary of D-Day was marked by a special ceremony. Eric Szeto was there.
EDMONTON – On a day when nations who fought in World War Two paused to remember the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a ceremony in Edmonton Friday morning bridged the past and present together.
Veterans looked on as current members of the 3rd Canadian Division received a shoulder patch called the French Grey. The rectangular patch symbolizes the sacrifice their brothers-in-arms made.
“The importance of it is that it links us back to our history,” said Brig. Gen. Christian Juneau, Commander of 3rd Canadian Division. “There’s a special connection there.”
WATCH: Sights and sounds from the patching ceremony
The division was formed during World War One and fought in the bloodiest battles, including Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.
In the Second World War, 3rd Division soldiers wore the French Grey patch to honour their predecessors. It was the only Canadian division involved in the initial D-Day invasion. Tens of thousands of soldiers stormed the beach that day. Many perished — a thousand of our men were among them.
Those who did survive still have a tough time talking about it.
“I don’t know of a single word to respond, other than there was tension, and very high tension. You know that the battle is on and you are fearful for your life.” said veteran Raymond Reierson.
World War Two was the last time the French Grey appeared on soldier’s shoulders. Reierson is pleased it has returned.
“The patch is a proud emblem of a very fine division… to bring it back again at this time I think is just excellent.”
WATCH: Gord Steinke speaks with MP Laurie Hawn about the 70th anniversary of D-Day
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.
© Shaw Media, 2014