Today, we commemorate the 76th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. We commemorate and remember the sacrifice of those who fought and gave their lives in this critical turning point of the Second World War.
The largest combined military operation in history, dubbed Operation Neptune, saw 150,000 Canadian, British, and American troops side by side in a massive amphibious assault, fighting against weather, against heavily fortified enemy troops, and against tremendous odds.
The risks were overwhelming, and the possibility of heavy casualties was high. But equally great was the necessity of a strategic foothold on mainland Europe, and breaking through the Nazi’s Atlantic Wall and brutal regime.
On five beaches – Gold, Omaha, Sword, Utah and Juno – they fought for their lives, for human rights and for an end to fascism. Fourteen thousand Canadian troops stormed Juno, and through their sacrifice and determination broke through enemy fire to take the beach.
The war was far from over, and the liberation of Europe far from complete. Over the next 11 months, Canadians troops and the Allied forces would face brutal warfare and battle, and come face to face with the horrific reality of the Holocaust.
Just over a year after D-Day the war would be over, but what those soldiers witnessed would never be forgotten. While each passing year, that living memory fades. We remain steadfast in our sacred duty to keep the flame of remembrance alive.
Today, I urge all Ontarians to pause and remember the 5000 Canadian troops who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in the battle of Normandy, to share the stories of the veterans, and to recognize the honour the immeasurable sacrifice of those who have served to keep us free.
Lest we forget.