D-Day 75th anniversary ceremony held at Kingston VIA Rail station
June 6 will mark 75 years since the D-Day invasion was launched from Great Britain onto the shores of Normandy during the Second World War.
Canadian troops were responsible for capturing Juno beach and securing a foothold on continental Europe once again for the Allies.
Veterans Affairs Canada, with the support of Via Rail, has started marking that day, and a ceremony was held at the Kingston Via Rail station Saturday.
Before Canadian soldiers landed on the shores of France, they first boarded trains across the country and rode them to Halifax to then sail across the Atlantic ocean.
In Kingston on Saturday, four soldiers carrying a pair of combat boots on a wooden platform were piped into the train station ceremony.
Veterans Affairs representative Robert Loken says the boots represent the transition from civilian life to military life.
“We’re somewhat re-enacting those departures at several train stations across the country,” Loken said.
In total, 14 pairs of boots will be transported to Halifax to be part of the D-Day ceremonies there in June.
Dr. Roly Armitage, 94, was one of thousands of men that made that voyage in preparation for the 1944 landing.
He arrived in Normandy 10 days after the initial D-Day attack.
“I was wounded on the Orn River, my officer was killed, Lt. Roy Pattenson, he’s buried in Beny- Sur-Mir,” said Armitage.
Armitage went on to help liberate the Netherlands and was involved in the final push into Germany.
He says the Kingston ceremony is emotional and an honour.
“All those things are a little choking,” he said. “I feel it was an honour being respected for what we did, I don’t like to dwell on that stuff.”
Several dozen residents, politicians, and military personnel from CFB Kingston attended the two-hour ceremony.
Base Commander Col. Kirk Gallinger was among them.
“It’s just that mark of respect to recognize their sacrifice and to learn from them their experiences and to just show the utmost respect we have for everything that they’ve done for their country,” Gallinger said.
Veterans Affairs Canada has also arranged for a fifteenth pair of combat boots to be sent to Juno for the commemoration ceremony in France.