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Okanagan vet recalls ‘Wait for Me, Daddy’ photo during Legion of Honour ceremony

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Okanagan vet recalls ‘Wait for Me, Daddy’ photo during Legion of Honour ceremony – Jun 27, 2016

SUMMERLAND – It’s credited as the most famous Canadian photograph of the Second World War.

The image shows a child breaking from his mother’s grasp to reach for the outstretched hand of his father.

Among the sea of soldiers photographed in the October 1, 1940 procession in New Westminster, is an Okanagan war veteran, and that day is still very fresh in the mind of Charles Bernhardt.

“I remember the family from Summerland. I knew them and her boy, ‘Whitey’, was saying goodbye to his dad,” said Bernhardt.

It’s one of the many days in uniform the 95-year-old recalled during a ceremony at his Summerland care home on Saturday.

His five and a half years of service are now being recognized by the French government.

“I’m very overwhelmed, very touched by the regiment wanting to do this,” says Bernhardt.

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Bernhardt was awarded the French Legion of Honour. His eyes welled as he tried to express how much it means.

“That they wish to do this for me humbles me… I choke up with that pretty easy,” said Bernhardt.

Among those in the audience during the ceremony were members of Bernhardt’s family. Everyone watched on with pride as he was given the medal.

“It’s really touching and moving and it means so much to him,” said Bernhardt’s granddaughter, Kristen Trussel.

Bernhardt’s granddaughters were there, as well as some of his great grandchildren.

“We have to pass down these memories to our children so they realize and appreciate the freedom they have today,” said Jennifer Kole, another one of Bernhardt’s granddaughters.

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The Legion of Honour, created by Napolean Bonaparte in 1802, is the French government’s highest honour bestowed on living veterans who helped liberate France.

“They just want to say thanks to Canadian soldiers, British soldiers, American soldiers for their service and liberating their country,” said Colonel Archie Steacy, president of the B.C. Regiment Association.

“I nominated seven people from our regiment for it and Charlie was one of them.”

Despite the many unforgettable memories Bernhardt has to look back on, Saturday’s ceremony was one he says he will never forget.

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