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Monday, April 15, 2024
Legion bringing home flag that flew at Normandy’s Juno Beach Centre
NOTL Legion member Al Magnacca, left, and past-president Stan Harrington with a Canadian flag used as a part of the legion's colour guard. Richard Hutton

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion will be flying a flag with a special origin to honour veterans past and present.

The Royal Canadian Legion branch 124 has purchased a Canadian flag that flew over the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France.

The centre is a museum that opened in 2003, an effort by volunteers and veterans to create a permanent memorial to Canadians who served in the Second World War and preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance. 

As a fundraiser to continue its work, the centre is offering Canadian flags that have flown over the centre for $500.

Each flag will come with a certificate of authenticity indicating the flag was flown at Juno Beach.

“The goal is to have a tangible item that we can refer to when talking about (the Second World War) and as a displayed item,” said branch president Al Howse. “It can draw attention to veterans.”

By purchasing the flag, the Legion will be helping the centre with financial support and its continuing mission to highlight through online history lessons and exhibits the efforts of Canadian soldiers who fought in the Allied war effort to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

Legion member Lt.-Col. Al Magnacca served as a long-time member of the Canadian Armed Forces reserves in Brandon, Man., and Edmonton before winding up his military career at the Toronto Brigade headquarters as a senior staff officer. He has been a member at branch 124 for 11 years.

“We decided at the Legion that it was important,” Magnacca said. “We have purchased a flag and will have it by June 6.”

The Legion is developing plans on how and where the flag will be displayed or flown. Once decided, those plans will be revealed, he said.

This June 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces landed in Normandy in what remains the largest invasion by sea in history.

Troops from the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade fought alongside Allies, including soldiers from Great Britain and the United States.

The Canadians landed on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, and 381 of them lost their lives in the early-morning operation. The subsequent Battle of Normandy claimed a further 5,500 Canadians.

hutton@niagaranow.com

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