Freeloaders at D-Day ceremony
The TV coverage of celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Juno Beach landings by Canadian forces and the start of the liberation of France was most appropriate and sometimes very emotional for me.
From the coverage in Friday’s Courier it appears there were thousands of Canadians joining a tribute to honour the bravery and sacrifice of 14,000 who took part on the opening day of the invasion, in which 359 were killed and 715 wounded or captured. Among those present last Thursday were 31 survivors of the invasion force, many in wheelchairs and the youngest more than 90 years old.
They certainly deserved to be there, and unquestionably it was appropriate that representatives from the various battalions which took part in D-Day should be there, along with some young people, many army, navy and air force cadets representing the future of our military.
However, I must question why many who really had no reason to be representing our country were there. Among the political figures I saw on television were B.C. Premier John Horgan. I question why he should be there, at taxpayers’ expense. I’m sure there were many more like him whose expenses were covered.
Given that many of the surviving veterans who served both on D-Day and in the weeks and months afterwards have been neglected, surely the money spent on bringing those others to Juno Beach could have assisted veterans who have long been denied adequate services and compensation for the personal sacrifices they made to keep our Canada free.
On the editorial page, there was an excellent column by Jack Knox of Victoria Times Colonist in which he referred to the work of Eric Brunt, who is producing a feature length film entitled “Last Man Standing.”
In the documentary, Brunt interviews Second World War veterans and has spent the last 13 months — at his own expense — travelling the country to record the memories of 380 veterans of which 40 have since died.
Again at his own expense this 26 year old flew to France to interview the 31 veterans who were there. Given that “Last Man Standing” will undoubtedly become part of our national military records and will help educate future generations of the horrors of war and what it cost so many to keep Canada free, isn’t Eric Brunt far more deserving to have had his expenses covered than those many others who really need not have been there?