Forgive the delay, the Internet was veryyyy slow last night... perhaps a few students stayed up past their bedtime using the wifi??
Day 7 began by heading back to the Juno Beach centre for a very special and intimate ceremony: the student's presentations on their veterans. Before heading into the JBC the group stopped by the harbour to meet Richard Hellyer, a member of the Portsmouth Property trust who had a restored WWII canon boat which he described to the group as being both an offensive and defensive vessel used by the Canadian and Royal Navy. He also presented the group with a box of wooden crosses that had been given to him by a group of British school children who hoped to have them brought to Juno Beach.
The group walked down to the beach and then scattered towards the waters edge, out for low tide, to momentarily plant the cross and take a quiet moment with their thoughts and a silent dedication to those who fell on the beach and beyond. The crosses were collected and will come back to Canada with us, and hopefully return many more times in the future as a little piece of home being brought to the beach. After that time Marie Eve from the JBC led the unveiling ceremony of the students' bricks, then in we went to present. The presentations included laughter, tears, and showed immense pride and respect for the work they had done with these men that they have come to feel are distant friends and companions. Once the presentations were complete there was free time to eat lunch on the beach and take in the sun and sea air.
We knew that we had to be at Abbey d'Ardenne for s ceremony within a few hours, and in the meantime fit in quick visits to another sector of Juno Beach, Pegasus Bridge, and a camp of WWII enthusiasts who had a large number of restored army vehicles the students were eager to check out.
The ceremony at Abbey d'Ardenne was a very small and somber occasion to commemorate the 20+ Canadian soldiers who were executed by members of the SS Panzer division they encountered in the days following the beach invasion as they made their way into France. DHP students had the opportunity to speak, lay wreaths and present maple leaves during the ceremony as special youth guests.
After returning from the Abbey the students were set free In Bayeux for dinner with friends and then came back to their hotel in time to pack as we are off to Paris (via Dieppe) on day 8.