Memorial Park was solemn as the Swift Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch 56 honoured the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings. 

Joined by the local Cadets from the Land, Navy, Sea, and Air troupes, members of the Legion Branch 56 marched from the Legion Hall to the Cenotaph in Memorial Park. 

While D-Day was on June 6, this Sunday ended up being when they were able to accommodate the guest of Honour, John Watson, a WWII Veteran, and member of the Royal Regina Rifles Infantry Division. 

It was he who laid the wreath at the Cenotaph, in memory of all those who gave their lives at Juno Beach in the Canadian arm of the D-Day landings in Normandy. 

"This 80th anniversary means quite a bit to me," said Watson. "I think it was nice that so many people took time out to do something about it and have a remembrance ceremony."

Watson, who will be turning 99 this year, arrived in France one month after the initial D-Day landings. He spent his 18th summer pushing through Nazi Germany, helping the Allies defeat the Third Reich and the fascist ideology that gripped Europe.  

He believes it important that people continue to remember just how much blood was spilled in that endeavor, lest the mistakes of the past rise again. The current tensions between the European Union and Russia have Watson nervous.

Watson places the wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph, aware of the weighty significance it represents. Watson places the wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph, aware of the weighty significance it represents. 

"It looks like we're going to have to do some more, too," said Watson. "The way the world's going today. Hopefully, some of that memory will keep it from getting worse and calm things down a little bit."

Joining in the ceremonies with a look at the history of the Juno Beach landing by Canadian Forces, John Griffin offered a stark look at the death toll endured by Canadian troops. 

"This was one of the critical battles, if not the critical battle on the Western Front, opening that front in Europe," said Griffin. "The landings really paved the way for the eventual victory in Europe."

He discussed how Canadians by the end of the first day had pushed the furthest inland, and how the grisly reality of landing at the beach meant going headfirst into entrenched enemy machine gun fire. The brave men who put boots to the sand gave life and limb to ensure that the allies could gain a foothold where they had previously been pushed to the brink. 

He also touched upon Denis Denniel, from Val Marie, another member of the Royal Regina Rifles, who was injured during the D-Day landings. He was shot and would go on to continue serving in the military police. 

Griffin was thankful for everyone's attention during not only his section of proceedings but for their rapt focus throughout the event. 

"It was great to see people come out," said Griffin. "It's always great to see when people come out to these things and take the time to remember our veterans and those who have served and sacrificed so much for our country."