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Winnipeg military unit reflects on 80th anniversary of D-Day

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Members of a Winnipeg military unit officially marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day, and their unit's own involvement in the campaign.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles held a commemorative ceremony in Vimy Park Saturday afternoon, two days after the official anniversary celebrations in France.

"It's important to remember what we have today from those that gave us their yesterdays," Retired Captain George Glade said

"They passed away fighting for a free Europe, so we can live free here in Canada and in Europe."

During the service, members of the Winnipeg Rifles spokes about their unit's activities on D-Day, and laid wreaths on the memorial.

The Rifles were one of two units based in Winnipeg that landed in Normandy. They lost 56 soldiers that day, but were able to push further into Germany territory than most planners thought was possible.

Jonathan Williams' grandfather Alan Williams was among the soldiers that landed on Juno Beach during D-Day as a member of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. He said it was important for him to come down to the ceremony.

"I was lucky enough to have the experience to travel back to France with him in 2003 to the Juno Beach Centre. And just feel compelled, since he's passed and since time keeps going on, to come to the 80th anniversary this year and commemorate and just spend some time reflecting and remembering and honouring the things that he did so that I could live a fairly easy life."

Alan, who passed away in 2005, suffered a leg injury during D-Day, which caused him to walk with a limp for the rest of his life. Jonathan said coming to the service allowed him to be connected with his grandfather again.

"He would be so proud to be here today," he said. "He would be so proud that I'm here today. My family in other provinces would be here today and be proud. I just feel like just another great way to remember him now that he's not here."

Glade added he was heartened to see the support from younger Canadians at the event.

"It's wonderful. You know, they are saying that we have not forgotten," he said.

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