Army Museum, Citadel bring out vintage look to commemorate D-Day
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site looked a lot more like the 1940's than 2019 on Wednesday.
All around the site, preparations were in full-swing for Thursday's commemoration of D-Day.
Bad weather in the forecast forced organizers to move the Veterans Affairs Canada ceremony to the Willow Park Armouries, but the Army Museum and the Halifax Citadel will still be open and there will be free admission, said Ken Hynes, the chief curator at The Army Museum.
On Wednesday at the museum, there was a steady stream of visitors, including Matthew and Karla Dodds, who travelled from Kelowna.
Matthew's great-grandfather survived D-Day, dying at the ripe old age of 104 at home in Edmonton.
Like countless others, he never shared what he saw that day.
“He didn't talk about anything,” Dodds said. “We've seen his old medals and his uniform and all that is with my grandma, still in Edmonton, but he never talked about it.”
The Halifax connection to the Second World War is as much a Canadian story as a local-one. An estimated 90-per-cent of our troops left from here. Even now, the scope of the D-Day operation is difficult to imagine.
“So, 156,000 soldiers landed on those beaches, on the sixth of June, and it took the better-part of two-and-a-half months to win the Battle of Normandy,” Hynes said.
Bill MacDonald, the vice-chair of the museum, said the effects were lasting on the homefront.
“Men went. Men didn't come home. Some came home hurt. Some came home shattered,” he said.
The tributes extend beyond Thursday's service.
A handful of veterans and dignitaries braved the rain in Point Pleasant Park for a wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday morning.
An estimated 14,000 Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day -- an unimaginable sacrifice we could all stand to remember more often.
“I think about the fact that it wasn't so long ago that people that were my husband's age were out fighting in wars and that we're just so lucky today,” said Karla Dodds. “Sometimes, we just don't actually reflect on how lucky we are.”
Along with the governor general, seven Second World War veterans will be among the special guests at Thursday's event. That may not seem like many, but we're losing about 200 a week now, so this will be the last milestone commemoration of D-Day involving some of the people who were actually there on June 6, 1944.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.