Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – 19 August 2017

Veteran LCol Ret’d Robert Spencer and BVP2017 students.
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. In honour of this momentous occasion the #BVP2017 students attended official commemoration ceremonies and had the privilege of forming part of the honour guard. Earlier in the day they visited the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, where over 700 of the 916 Canadians who died on August 19, 1942 are buried.

(Please note: the students blog in their language of preference)

BVP2017 students meet the Honourable Minister of Veteran Affairs, Kent Hehr.
Credit: Katy Whitfield, Vimy Foundation 2017.
Credit: Katy Whitfield, Vimy Foundation 2017.
BVP2017 students with the official Dieppe75 poster.
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ceremony at Puys (Blue Beach).
Credit: Hanna Smyth, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Il y a un mot en particulier qui me vient en tête pour décrire cette journée : honneur. En effet, après notre réveil assez tôt, nous sommes repartis dans l’autocar avec les anciens combattants et personnes affiliées que nous avions rencontrés la veille. Suite à des brèves discussions, nous avons assisté à la première partie de la cérémonie du 75e de Dieppe. La Fondation Vimy était représentée par trois de nos participants qui ont récité « La promesse de ne pas oublier ».

Dans le même cimetière, j’observais à nouveau les pierres tombales. L’épitaphe qui m’a impressionné était sur la pierre de J. C. Palms, un soldat américain enrôlé dans les forces canadiennes au sein du Essex Scottish Regiment, et lisait : « Il s’est réveillé du rêve qu’est la vie. »

Par la suite, nous avons été invités à joindre la seconde partie de la cérémonie, près de la plage. Une fois arrivés, nous avons rencontré et chaleureusement salué le ministre des Anciens combattants. Deux autres participants ont à nouveau représenté notre fondation et déposé une couronne. Portant l’uniforme rouge, au milieu du bruit des saxophones, des tubas et des cymbales jouant avec ardeur les hymnes nationaux, je sentais les regards se tourner vers moi. Quel honneur !

-Yaman Awad, Anjou, Quebec

 

Veteran Alfred Lonsdale & BVP2017 Students.
Credit: Katy Whitfield, Vimy Foundation 2017.

August 19th, 1942 will always be remembered as the day of the Allied landings at Dieppe. Yesterday, we walked along the same pebble-stoned beaches of those brave men; those who landed, fought, and died, 75 years ago. Today, we saw the graves in which they lie. The cemetery was packed with people from local communities and travellers from abroad who came especially for the commemorative ceremony. Two of us stood at the front of the crowd, alongside a 93 year-old veteran Alfred Lonsdale who saw the beaches of Dieppe from a warship in 1942 and then those at Normandy two years later on D-Day in June 1944. Alfred saluted sharply after I laid a wreath at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice, indeed, at the feet of the ghosts of Dieppe. That’s who Alfred was saluting.

The night before, we participated in another ceremony. We walked between the rows of gravestones, lit by candlelight, reading the names. What jumped out at me, after visiting so many World War cemeteries, were all the different branches of the army represented. So many airmen, so many signalmen, among all the infantrymen. At the end we had time to plant remembrance crosses and commemorate a soldier of our choosing. I sought out an unknown Royal Air Force airman. My grandfather served in the RAF in the 1960’s, and I planted that cross for him. We will remember them.

-David Alexander, Pointe-Claire, Quebec

Credit: Katy Whitfield, Vimy Foundation 2017.

Today we attended the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. The ceremony was very moving and I felt privileged to be able to participate in this important event. The presentations and acts of remembrance were touching but what had the most profound impact on me were two small boys in the crowd who could not have been more than seven years old. Seeing these two made me realize that remembering the soldiers who died in the World Wars is not enough; we also have to work to keep peace throughout the world so that the horrific conflicts of the past are never repeated.

When I saw these two boys, I thought to myself, “I hope they never have to fight like all the men buried around me had to fight.” All the graveyards I had seen on the program thus far were not only sites of remembrance, but they were also a warning of the cost of war. Throughout the past week and a half, I have seen the impact the two World Wars had on the communities and the people when they were occurring and the impact they still have to this day. Suddenly, everything I had seen became a lesson screaming that we have to preserve peace.

In the First World War, the soldiers fought what they believed was the War to End All Wars – they fought and died for peace. In the Second World War, soldiers fought against the Axis – they fought and died for the freedom of occupied and oppressed peoples. It is not enough for us to remember their sacrifice. We have to work so that their deaths have a lasting impact. We have to work towards peace!

Patricia Kennedy, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Credit: Hanna Smith, Vimy Foundation 2017.