Similar to my experience at Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach was a unique and humbling experience. Building off of the success of the First World War, Canada was given increasingly important responsibilities climaxing with the contributions of Canadians in the landings on Juno Beach. It was truly humbling to walk along the sand that Canada had been trusted by the world to take; the sand that hundreds of Canadians had fallen on. Yet walking across the sand was strangely peaceful.
Meeting the locals and taking in the beauty of the area, it was to believe that a major battle was once fought here. The trenches, bunkers, beaches, mulberries in the harbour, all made for a sobering and meaningful experience.
– Adam Labrash, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
A moment that stood out to me today was visiting the Abbaye D’Ardennes. Hearing the tragic story about what happened there (the interrogation and execution of Canadian POWs) was shocking and emotional for everyone. What really made me think was the garden that now stand in the place where the executions happened. I found it really difficult to reconcile the current beauty of the place with its horrific past.
Another interesting moment was visiting the Beny-sur-mer cemetery because we were able to see how the epitaphs for the First and Second World Wars are different. What I found very interesting was how so many of the Second World War epitaphs were more personal, with fewer religious references, and often stated who had chosen the epitaph. This made me think about who headstones are really for. The deceased, or those they left behind. I also wondered about why the shift towards personal, familial epitaphs occurred. I’ve enjoyed this program so much and I am dreading the fact that it is coming to an end.
– Sabrina Ashgar, Northwood, Middlesex, UK