D-Day commemorations call veterans back to Juno Beach

ABOVE: The West Block’s Tom Clark reflects on the importance of this week’s D-Day ceremonies.

This week, thousands of Canadians made the pilgrimage to Juno Beach to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Veterans, families, dignitaries and students made the long voyage to honour the fallen at the famous battle site, considered a major turning point in the Second World War.

“It seems like yesterday to me to see the area again,” said retired sergeant Ron Tucker, a former British paratrooper dropped behind enemy lines June 5, 1944.

“I can see everything again. It’s an honour to go and see the lads that are in the cemetery that I worked with and played with, went on leave with, had a good time with. I’ve been over a lot of times in the last few years, but I’m thinking this might be my last.”

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READ MORE: World honours D-Day’s fallen, 70 years on

It may be the last time many of the veterans are able to return to Juno Beach, but they’re not the only ones who are drawn to the place.

For the sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters it might be the sense that time is running out to hear the stories that pulls them here.  The lucky ones know what a precious gift it is when the wall comes down and memories are shared.

And there is a sense of duty to keep faith with them and honour the promises made.

In Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, Wayne Day planted a Canadian flags in front of each headstone.

“It’s emotional because it brings back a promise that I made to my father that I would never forget,” said Day.

“It’s just a way of continuing the legacy of all of these men. Young guys, if you look at the headstones, 18, 19, 20 years old, and they’re laying here. So many lives wasted. But had they not done what they did, we wouldn’t be living the lives that we’re living today.”