Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sixty-Five Years Ago

D-Day. The invasion of Normady.

We have heard those words bandied around a lot today as the 65th anniversary of the "liberation of Europe".

A day with many fine speeches.

But let us never forget Juno Beach.
Juno Beach, an eight-kilometre-wide stretch of sand and bucolic fishing villages, was where 14,000 soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division battled their way ashore against fierce resistance from 7,100 Germans of the 716th Infantry Division.

The Canadians overran the port of Courseulles-sur-Mer, France and two smaller villages to the east - Bernieres and St. Aubin. By nightfall on June 6, 1944, they penetrated further inland than either the Americans - or the British.
And although I'm no fan of the man, I must say that I did appreciate his words today.
"On this stretch of beach, code-named Juno, Canadian soldiers undertook what would prove to be one of the defining operations of our proud military history," Harper told a crew of dignitaries and veterans at Juno Beach.

"Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen had pushed further inland than any other allied troops.

"Together they had breached Hitler's . . . Europe and effectively turned the tide of a war as bitter and bloody as any the world has ever known," said Harper.

The prime minister said that the soldiers fought for peace and freedom, the same things Canadians today are fighting for in Afghanistan.

It is no exaggeration to say that the course of history itself changed that very day," Harper said. "A triumph of this magnitude was not without sacrifice, of the 15,000 Canadians who took part in that initial assault, nearly 1,000 were killed or wounded. Over the course of the Normandy campaign, over 5,000 had paid the ultimate price.

"Through their bravery, skill and sheer determination, the shackle of the Nazi oppression was shattered and humanity was rescued from a future of tyranny, racism and cruelty."
All of them.

And might I suggest that you take a few minutes to peruse the first few videos to the far right of this page. And end with this nice piece from the UK Guardian.

By the by, as to Sarzosky's apparent desire to have today's ceremony limited to only President Obama and himself, to the exclusion of Canada and Britain, might I remind le president that his country was happy enough to see us there in 1944.

Something which the French people themselves do not seem to have forgotten, even if their leader has.

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