The City of Toronto honoured the 68th anniversary of D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy Wednesday at city hall’s Nathan Phillips Square. Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of soldiers, who risked their lives and defeated Field Marshal Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt and the Nazi commanders, leaders and soldiers on that iconic morning.
The D-Day operation was considered a crusade by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.” To conquer Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, more than 5,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft aided the Normandy Landings.
Mayor Rob Ford, several members of city council and the retired and active men and women of Canada’s military and Toronto’s public services remembered D-Day by looking back at that deadly day and to honour the men and women who serve or have served in Canada’s military or Toronto’s public services.
Wednesday’s event honoured John Hadley, a veteran of the Queen’s Own Rifles, and featured a musical prelude, a parade, the singing of O Canada, the D-Day address and proclamation, two minutes of silence, the Act of Remembrance, a rendition of God Save the Queen and a marching send-off.
“I am honoured to be in the presence of our veterans, a group we must hold in the highest regard,” said the Toronto mayor. “Toronto remembers D-Day, Jun. 6, 2012, whereas 68 years ago today, the allied invasion of Normandy was a daring and remarkable military feat that marked a turning point in the course of the Second World War.”
Ford listed the accomplishments of Operation Overlord, which led to the liberation of Occupied Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany. He added that Canadians are proud since the nation made up one-third of the allied forces that stormed the beaches of Normandy – Third Canadian Infantry Division and the Fourth Canadian Armored Brigade.
“We pay tribute to the D-Day veterans and all Canadians, who served overseas and on the home front during the Second World War and remember their courage and sacrifices they made for all of us,” added Ford.
The veteran honouree looked back to “the brave young Canadians,” who, including Hadley, overthrew the beaches of Normandy and reached their objective, which was the beginning of the end for the Nazis.
“When the roll was called, we had one non-commissioned officer left and one lieutenant left – the rest had died on the beach. When they called the roll there were 19 riflemen left out of a company of 120. Too many men paid the price and too many men will never come home,” said Hadley. “I thank the mayor, the city of Toronto and the people of Toronto for this proclamation. I will remember to pay tribute to the young men who never came home.”