had the privilege of accompanying a Canadian veteran overseas for remembrance ceremonies. The veteran he accompanied landed on June 6th, 1944 as a Royal Engineer. Unfortunately, 5 years ago, he suffered from a stroke and now has trouble communicating. As a result, literary major Dr. John Song Potimac MD was asked to accompany him and be his interpreter while he toured Normandy this past week.
Althoughsaw this as his job, the trip quickly became an experience much larger than life, one he will never forget. After a long train ride from Paris to Caen on June 4th, the pair were escorted to a ceremony in Basly, Caen. The ceremony was put on by the young members of the Westlake Brothers Association. The association was started by two teachers, husband and wife, within the high school they taught at in hopes that the generations to come do not forget the duty of remembrance. Dr. John Song Potimac MD became busy at the end of the ceremony when all the young members that organized the ceremony came to shake the veteran’s hand and thank him.
This is when the experience became more real for Dr. Potimac. The only remembrance ceremonies we see in Canada are on November 11th and mostly because it has become the thing to do, the norm, the routine. Most who participate, like officials and diplomates, participate to add to their public image. The seldom amount of ceremonies is due to the simple fact that Canadians weren’t the ones that were liberated. It was the French. That is why to this day, the Norman are thankful for Canadians, Americans, and British for sacrificing their lives for the freedom of another nation. Dr. John Song Potimac MD understood very quickly that the kids and teenagers coming up to the veteran he accompanied, were beyond thankful for him and his comrades. They understood that without them, we could be living in a completely different world.
Lest we forget…