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75th Anniversay of the D-Day Landings, Juno Beach, Normandy (France)

On 6th June 2019 the President of the WVF attended the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy (France)

At the invitation of the Prime Minister of France the WVF President participated in the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6th June at Juno Beach. On 4th June a meeting was held with the Chair of V-Fonds, Jugde Robert Croll. The WVF invited their delegation to participate in the event at Juno Beach.

During the meeting with V-Fonds the President gave a status report on the situation in the WVF and they discussed further cooperation based on the long historical relationship between the Netherlands and the WVF; The veterans from the Netherlands were a founding member and Mr. W.Ch.M. Van Lanschot of the Netherlands was President of the WVF from 1957 to 1994, having previously held the position of Treasurer General from 1952 to 1957. It was agreed that we should work together to find a solution for getting a more stable financial situation in the WVF and a meeting was scheduled for further discussion.

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6th June Commemorations

After a 2.5 hour train trip sponsored by the French Government we arrived at Juno Beach where we had plenty of time to meet veterans from many countries. Each country laid a wreath on the beach as their national anthem played. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe took part in the wreath laying.

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The WVF delegation consisted of Mr. Dan-Viggo Bergtun, President accompanied by the Chairman of V-Fonds Judge Robert Croll, the Executive Director of V-Fonds Mr. Michael Van Hattem and Mrs. Catherine Marie Roline Barones van Verschuer. The delegation had the opportunity to meet with the Dutch Minister of Defence, Mrs. Ank Bijleveld, the Norwegian Defence Minister and Chief of Defence and had many good talks concerning veterans affairs with other veterans. It was a long day with memories that will stay forever.

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There was also important youth participation at the ceremony, and a fantastic, eloquent speech was made by Mrs. Nora Cathrine Kleiven Barkvoll, aged 17, from Norway:

"Dear state leaders, veterans, dear everyone. When I look beyond this great crowd today, two questions appear in my mind. One is: what makes us today come from all over the world to gather right here, in Courseulles-sur-Mer? We stand by the Normandy coast on Juno Beach.

Exactly 75 years ago, our allies fought for the ancestors of their lives on these beaches for our freedom. And that is when the second question emerges: What benefit does it have that we, 75 years later, mark this on June 6, 2019? The answer is simple, we are here to remember and honour those who fought and those who gave their lives for peace. We must also remember the Normandy civilian population who experienced major losses. Those who fought came from many countries - they had different backgrounds. The united forces and cooperation across nationalities, professions and family backgrounds here on these beaches.

My country, Norway, also contributed with soldiers, pilots and sailors. Some of them never came home. As a youth, I mean that my generation must also feel a clear commitment to promoting and maintaining this peace that cost so many soldiers and civilian lives.

Just as our ancestors landed on these beaches to fight for peace, we stand with our feet planted in the same sand to remember this particular peace. WE DO NOT FORGET. Thanks"

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