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Premier's Remarks On The 65th Anniversary Of D-Day

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Premier's Remarks On The 65th Anniversary Of D-Day

Office of the Premier

Major-General Rohmer,

Brigadier-General Collin,

Colleagues in public office,

Veterans, families and friends.

Sixty-five years ago today, off the coast of France, the greatest sea-borne invasion in history had begun.

During the night, soldiers had parachuted behind enemy lines.

At 6 a.m. the naval bombardment began.

And at 7:45, at Juno Beach, some 14,000 Canadians stormed ashore.

They faced heavy guns, machine-gun nests, pillboxes, concrete fortifications, and land mines.

Two hours later, Juno was theirs.

The assault on Normandy marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.

And on that day, which saw 175,000 British, American and Canadian soldiers land on five beaches -- only the Canadians achieved all their objectives.

Here's how Doug Hester of "B" Company in Toronto's Queen's Own Rifles described his experience in his landing craft:

"We saw the five pillboxes on top of the sea wall. About 500 yards out, they had us in their sights and began shooting. When the craft got into shallower water, they lowered the door. The three (guys) in front of me including Doug Reed were hit and killed.

By luck, I jumped out between bursts into their rising blood. Cold and soaking wet, I caught up to Gibby. The first burst went through his back pack. He turned his head grinning at me and said, 'that was close, Dougie.' The next burst killed him."

A CBC reporter on the scene described the aftermath of the battle:

"[I have a] vivid memory of the French who welcomed us. Right there on the beaches with tears and roses, but especially with tears. Their homes were being torn up by fierce battle and some of them were dying.

But it was the beginning of the end of their nightmare. I saw them crown our dead Canadians with roses."

The Normandy campaign lasted 2 and a half months. The cost was great.
Some 5,400 Canadian soldiers lie buried there: sons, brothers, husbands and
fathers.

In one of the cemeteries there is a cross which bears this inscription: "Leadership is wisdom and courage and a great carelessness of self."

When we meet our veterans, we should think of those words. And be grateful for their wisdom to know evil when they saw it, for their courage to do something about it and for putting our future security ahead of their present danger.

So I say to our veterans, mindful that our words can never be enough, thank you.

Thank you for putting us, our safety, our peace, our prosperity, our future, first.

Thank you for your generosity towards us in war and after.

Thank you for working so very hard each day of your lives afterwards to build a better, stronger Canada for all of us.

And to those of us here today who are not veterans, we have our duty as well --a duty to remember the stories of their bravery and their love for us.

Those are our stories now -- ours to pass on to our children and for them to pass on to their children.

Sixty-five years ago, our veterans did their duty.

Today, we are called upon to do ours.

And we will not fail those who returned from war.

And those who did not.

We will remember their sacrifices and continue their work to ensure that our Ontario, our Canada, remains strong and free for generations to come.

Thank you.

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