Marie Eve Vaillancourt is the Manager of Exhibitions and Development with the Juno Beach Centre Association. Here, she shares what the JBC means to her and why she continues to devote herself to the mission of remembrance.
“Working at the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy for almost seven years, and for the Association in Canada for two years has made me understand the meaning of the word THANK YOU more than any other experience in my life.
To all Second World War Canadian soldiers and veterans:
For all the kites my sons and I have flown on windy days.
For our after school-work swims.
For birthday parties on the beach with a rugby ball and lines drawn on the sand.
For sailing on a catamaran with my sons.
To all Canadian families who have personal connections to the Second World War that visit the JBC:
For letting us, the staff – complete strangers – witness and be part of your journey. You arrive on Juno Beach with your hearts already filled with sorrow and pride; standing on this beach has been on your bucket list for years. Your emotions are overflowing, but healing is happening. For a moment in time, we share with you the humility that binds us as Canadians – humans – together.
To all Canadians who have no connection to the Second World War that visit:
For understanding the importance of this site and feeling it in your guts nonetheless, and joining in to commemorate and proving that Canadians, no matter their origins or backgrounds, have this natural ability to care and respect for what feels authentic and humble.
To all currently serving Canadian servicemen and women and our “new generation of veterans” post Second World War who have supported us and will continue to do so:
For trusting that a staff team comprised of civilians can do your service justice and understand your sacrifices.
For leading by example and showcasing generosity by never expecting any reward or recognition.
To all our dear French and European Friends; to those liberated by Canadians in 1944:
For allowing Canadians to better understand the true meaning of liberation and friendship forged in fire.
For showing up, rain or shine to our events, for shovelling buckets of sand out of German tunnels and bunkers for days on hand as volunteers to help make the experience of our site unforgettable for thousands of visitors for years to come.
For bringing over cases of Normandy apples for the guide teams.
To all our Canadian guides past and future:
For being the live link, for being the face of hope to hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world that memory transmission and intergenerational dialogue are powerful agents of peace and tolerance.
For having a few beers together as a team on top of Cosy’s bunker to watch the sunset on Juno Beach and returning home as Ambassadors to Normandy and memory for the rest of your lives.
For all these reasons and many more to create and come:
Long live the JBC,
Long live the team spirit that inhabits all staff of the “Juno family”,
Long live this friendship forged in fire.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.