Ottawa Celebrates Juno Beach Centre Opening 06 June, 2003
by
Cpl J.M. Lapointe (with files from E.B. Lapointe)


Canadian Forces members take part in the 8 kilometre “March to Remember” from Dow’s Lake, Ottawa to the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, which equals the distance that Canadian troops covered on D-Day, 06 June, 1944, after their landing at Juno Beach, Normandy. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD
Canadian Forces members take part in the 8 kilometre “March to Remember” from Dow’s Lake, Ottawa to the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, which equals the distance that Canadian troops covered on D-Day, 06 June, 1944, after their landing at Juno Beach, Normandy. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD

Ottawa - On 06 June, 2003, the newly constructed Juno Beach Centre — located next to the landing place of Canadian soldiers in the Second World War on Juno Beach, France — was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien and the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Over a thousand World War II veterans, dignitaries, and students, as well as the Canadian Forces Honour Guard, were there to celebrate the opening of the centre.
   
In his speech at the site of the memorial, which was seen in Canada on the CBC television network, the prime minister of Canada said that “The world needed a memorial so that the memory and the story of Canada’s military and civilian contributions and efforts during the Second World War would never be forgotten. Until now, there has been no significant Canadian memorial to mark their achievements, anywhere.”

The centre was conceived by Canadian veterans who noticed on a visit to Juno Beach during the 50th anniversary of the landing in France of Canadian troops that — while there were monuments to the memory of the Allied Forces during the war — none specifically honoured the contributions of Canadians in the beginning of the liberation of France on D-Day, in which 340 soldiers were killed, 574 were wounded, and 47 were taken prisoner. Upon his return to Canada, veteran Garth Webb, President of the Juno Beach Centre Association, started the campaign to raise the eight to ten million dollars needed to build the centre.

Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, the Governor General of Canada, addresses the crowds gathered at the National War Memorial, Ottawa, as 10 other simultaneous ceremonies were held across Canada to honour the opening of the Juno Beach Memorial, Courseulles-sur-Mer, France. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD

In Ottawa, at the National War Memorial, a ceremony was held at 11 a.m. to honour the official opening in France. Led by Her Excellency, the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, the Governor General of Canada, she gave a speech in honour of the Canadians who fought on Juno Beach in which she said that “ ... when we (Canadians) take arms to defend what is right, we have the tenacity, the strength and the will to fight for it - and, if necessary, to give our lives for the freedom of others.” Her husband, His Excellency, John Ralston Saul, gave an account of his father, Capt Saul, who was at Juno Beach.

Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, the Governor General of Canada, addresses the crowds gathered at the National War Memorial, Ottawa, as 10 other simultaneous ceremonies were held across Canada to honour the opening of the Juno Beach Memorial, Courseulles-sur-Mer, France. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD

Canadian war veteran Oscar Couvrette from World War II attended the ceremonies at the National War Memorial, Ottawa on 06 June, 2003 in observance of the dedication of the Juno Beach Centre in France. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD
Poignant poems, such as “In Flanders Fields” and a personal, heartfelt “Canadian Soldier I Am”, by MCpl Groves of CFS Leitrim, were read, and a wreath on behalf of all Canadians was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the Cenotaph by the governor general.

On the same day as the opening of the centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer, the Internet website entitled “Canada in World War II” at <http://www.junobeach.org> opened as a companion website to the centre itself at Juno Beach. In addition to the 25 pages covering the events, people, arms, and weapons of World War II, the website will house a virtual tour of the Juno Beach Centre for those who are unable to visit the centre itself in France.

On the same day, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Sheila Copps, designated the Juno Beach Landing Site Memorial as a site of national historic significance to Canada and the world.

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Canadian war veteran Oscar Couvrette from World War II attended the ceremonies at the National War Memorial, Ottawa on 06 June, 2003 in observance of the dedication of the Juno Beach Centre in France. CREDIT: Cpl Mario Lapointe CD



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