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Editorial: D-Day ceremony reminds us to remember

It is a frightful thing to consider what might have happened had the Allied effort failed on those beaches eight decades ago.
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June 6, the Royal Canadian Legion General Alexander Ross D-Day Memorial service was held Thursday in Yorkton to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.

YORKTON - Eighty years is a very long time, yet something that happened all those decades ago is still very important to remember.

That is why it was somewhat disappointing more people had not gathered at the Yorkton Cemetery last Thursday.

You see that evening (June 6), the Royal Canadian Legion General Alexander Ross D-Day Memorial service was held Thursday in Yorkton to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.

“Operation Overlord, as the invasion was called, was a combination of naval, air and land assault troops,” said Brittany Johnson President of the Yorkton Legion. “Juno Beach was the Allied code name for a 10km stretch of French coastline stormed by Canadian soldiers in 1944. Over 7,000 ships carried 156,000 men across the English Channel. Of these 14,000 were Canadian troops from the 3rd Canadian Infantry and the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade. The Allied troupes seized the beach and seaside villages under intense fire from German defenders who had fortified the coastline with land mines and concrete bunkers in the 5 years leading up to the invasion. Of these thousands of troops, the Canadian Navy contributed 110 warships and the Royal Canadian Air Force flew in 15 fighter and bomber squadrons to assist the assault that day.”

Sitting comfortably in a country where our freedoms are so ensconced we sometimes forget how precious they are, it can be difficult to imagine the scale of the operation – or the importance of the effort at hand.

It is a frightful thing to consider what might have happened had the Allied effort failed on those beaches eight decades ago.

Certainly the war would have dragged on far longer – and the prospect the Allies might have chosen surrender at some point cannot be discounted. What a different world might have arisen out of the ashes of that great conflict.

Those freedoms mentioned might well have been lost to the shackles of Nazism.

It’s something we must not forget.

Too many brave young men died as the Allied rushed the beaches of Normandy and headed toward Germany and victory so that we could have the freedoms we take too easily for granted.

For those at the cemetery last week, hearing the names of local men who were on that beach, hearing the sadness of the trumpet, seeing wreaths laid, and young cadets spreading ashes upon the graves of so many from our community, it makes forgetting impossible.

But, not everyone was there that night, so hopefully these words will give pause for readers to remember so that we never have to charge another beach to save our democracy.