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North Island-Powell River MP attends D-Day ceremonies

Rachel Blaney joins Canadian contingent that travels to France to commemorate 80th anniversary of invasion
VETERANS ATTEND: North Island – Powell River MP Rachel Blaney [centre] attended the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach, where Canadian soldiers came ashore on June 6, 1944.

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney was among the Canadian guests who attended the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach in France.

According to a media release from Blaney, the delegation from Canada included Second World War veterans and their families, including veterans who fought on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.

“It really struck me how grateful the residents still are for the sacrifices that Canadian soldiers made,” stated Blaney. “Throughout the ceremony on Juno Beach and during the parade we walked in, we could see the gratitude they still have. We placed wreaths at six different monuments to the Canadian soldiers who died on the beach. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony or watched the parade, many with Canadian flags.”

Blaney added that it was emotional to be part of the ceremonies at Juno Beach and the Canadian war cemeteries, especially given the presence of veterans who had been there during the war.

“It was so special and humbling to be part of these events with people who were there,” stated Blaney. “One man I was with was caught and put in a war camp in Poland. We spent time in a courtyard where 20 Canadians were killed, including an Indigenous man whose relative honoured him by singing a song in his language.

“I had the extreme privilege of speaking with major-general Richard Rohmer, who is now 100 years old and flew fighters in the Second World War. He spoke about always learning more and finding a positive way to move forward.”

During the trip to France, Blaney and other guests took part in a short ceremony and candlelight vigil at the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, a national ceremony at Juno Beach and a commemorative ceremony and visit to Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.

“It’s so incredible that a lot of these cities in France have sister cities in Germany, so they can build relationships and find a way to work through their challenges,” stated Blaney. “They had to find a way to be neighbours again, and they did. The direction of fear, hate and division always leads us on a path towards fascism and destruction. If we want to ensure this never happens again, we must remember the history and ask how we find common ground and come together as people.”

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