Charlottetown Rotarians mark 75th anniversary of D-Day invasion
'In 5 years, there won't very many of them left'
The Charlottetown Rotary Club held its annual Remembrance Day program Monday, paying special attention to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied force's invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe in World War II.
The ceremony focused on Islanders who gave their lives during the operation.
"Prince Edward Island itself had, between the two World Wars and the Korean War, almost a thousand soldiers die — from a province of a very small population," said chair Angus Orford.
"I think it's important when we take part in Remembrance Day is to understand the risks that these soldiers, sailors, airmen put themselves through and those that also made the ultimate sacrifice."
The audience also heard about the history and the role Island soldiers played during the D-day invasion.
Played a large role
Mark Wells was among a small delegation from P.E.I. who travelled to France last summer on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
"To go and honour the veterans — my great-uncle included, my grandfather, you know retrace their steps through D-Day — was a very fulfilling experience and an eye-opener," Wells told the audience.
"To experience the beaches that they landed on and to be there was a surreal experience, it was sobering to say the least."
Some 14,000 Canadians were part of the D-Day invasion, and 359 lost their lives.
Take an interest
"It being the 75th, I think the most important part was to see the last remaining veterans of that day, 75 years later," said retired Lt.-Col. Allan Trainor.
"In five years, there won't very many of them left. That's why it's important to our group to go over there again, pay homage to them and pay homage to all the relatives that we had that were not only buried in Normandy, but in different parts of France."
Organizers of the annual event said they hope more people, particularly youth, take more of an interest in the young men and women who were barely older than they are when they fought and died.
"If you've had a relative that participated or made the ultimate sacrifice died in battle, maybe take a little bit of interest," said Orford.
"With the internet, the information that's available, books have been written that are providing more and more detail, and I think you'd be quite surprised that you'd be able to find somebody and learn their story and get a better understanding of what they did."