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“Democracy is still under threat today,” declares Justin Trudeau

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at Juno Beach, in Courselles-sur-Mer, Normandy, on Thursday for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Courseulles-sur-Mer

Posted at 1:38 p.m.

  • Canada

The fight for freedom is not over, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns as Canada marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy amid a war in Ukraine where Russia is at the gates from Europe. A reminder that French President Emmanuel Macron later reiterated during the international ceremony.

“Democracy is still under threat today. It is threatened by aggressors who want to redraw the borders. It is threatened by demagoguery, misinformation, disinformation and foreign interference,” Mr. Trudeau said on Thursday.

Mr. Trudeau said democracy must be relentlessly defended. “We owe it to future generations. And we owe it to the women and men in uniform who have sacrificed so much for our collective freedom,” he noted.

Moments later, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal continued in the same vein with a speech that captivated the audience to the point where the sound of birds singing in the bucolic landscape was easily audible despite the presence of thousands of people.

“History is a lesson for the future,” said Mr. Attal. And today, more than ever, we must hear and listen to it. Hear it and listen to it while war strikes Europe again and, on Ukrainian soil, people die for having committed the affront of wanting to be free. »

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The French Prime Minister explained that to come to this beach is to remember, and “to see again these men so young who came to fight for a distant and unknown land […], to be inspired by their courage, carried by their bravery, guided by their exploits.”

“Our gratitude is eternal, infinite, he insisted. France will never forget that, on this sand, the blood of Canadian youth flowed for our freedom. »

Duty to remember, in Canada as elsewhere

The national commemorative ceremony held at “Juno Beach”, the code name given to this Normandy beach where 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed by sea and air on June 6, 1944.

Musical performances, a wreath-laying ceremony and a flypast were part of the ceremony attended by around ten World War II veterans and thousands of people.

< p>Along the road leading to “Juno Beach”, Canadian flags stood alongside those of France, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the crowd was Jean-Pierre Bertrand, a retiree from the 22nd Regiment in Quebec, whose colors he proudly wore. Mr. Bertrand, however, finds the current state of the Canadian Armed Forces “embarrassing”, so much so that he called it the “army of Canadian Tire”.

“We are liberators for them,” he noted, lamenting at the same time that Canadians are lacking in their duty to remember.

Conversely, Manon Caruso, a student at the Collège de la Presentation de Marie, in the south of France, like many other French people, assured that “everyone” knows this story. She was one of the 1,300 Canadian and French students who came to attend the ceremony.

“I’m a little moved to see all this,” said Patricia Michel, from Normandy, the tears in their eyes.

As for the war that Russia is waging, several spectators said they were worried. “It’s ultimately scary because everything that happened is for nothing,” said Yannick Guillorit. We hope it doesn't happen again, but it doesn't take much for it to happen again. »

With the Americans and the British, the Allied troops numbered a total of 156,000 soldiers to storm five beaches.

The ensuing battle will last 11 weeks. No less than 90,000 Canadians will take part, and in bloody fashion. The death toll will reach 5,500 among ours.

Prince William, also at the Canadian ceremony, insisted that the D-Day assault remains “ the most ambitious military operation in history” and ultimately led to the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. “Thank you for our freedom. Thank you for your service,” he said in French.

The Shadow of Russia

The Allies of the past are not exactly those of today, when France, Great Britain, the Americans and the Canadians fought alongside the Red Army. From now on, Russia, which invaded Ukraine more than two years ago, is clearly in the opposing camp.

Moreover, its president, Vladimir Putin did not receive his invitation to the commemoration events from France, which organized them, due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Conversely, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was an honored guest, warmly received by those who later attended the international ceremony at Omaha Beach.

“Faced with the return of war to our continent, faced with the calling into question of everything they fought for, faced with those who claim to change borders by force to rewrite history, let us be worthy of those who landed here. Your presence here today, Mr. President of Ukraine, says it all,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

These words immediately led the crowd to a long standing ovation. A plane then flew over the scene leaving a blue, white and red trail in the sky in the colors of the French flag.

The deafening noise of numerous planes flying over the sky punctuated the rest of the speech on freedom, “every morning's fight”.

In all, around twenty world leaders will attend the event, including US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116