Centre Dufferin District High School held an official send-off on May 21 for the group of students and Veterans travelling to France to attend ceremonies for the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Tony Balch, a local veteran who landed on D-Day with the Royal Canadian Navy, will be travelling with the CDDHS students. He was also at Juno Beach for the 60th Anniversary, and looks forward to returning. He acknowledged that the last time was an incredibly emotional experience for himself and the many other veterans who were there. “This time will be the same, I think, but unique, because I will be travelling with all of these youngsters.” When asked if he would do it all again, knowing what he does now, Mr. Balch didn’t falter. “Of course. You can’t pick and choose patriotism. You’re either a patriot, or you’re not.”
Neil Orford made a special presentation, revealing to Mr. Balch that an anonymous donor had stepped up to cover all of his extra expenses for the trip. Already touched, Mr. Balch then very humbly accepted a replica of the memorial brick that has been placed in his name at the Juno Beach Centre.
The students, travelling with Explorica, will be given a whirlwind tour of Paris, before touring sites including Vimy Ridge, the Menin Gate, and Dieppe. They will be at the Juno Beach Centre for the official ceremony on June 6, where two students will be reading the Commitment to Remember in French and English in front of the thousands in attendance.
CTV Barrie profiled the group in a nice piece available on their website.
We look forward to welcoming everyone to Juno Beach in two weeks!
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at email@example.com.