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Bridge renaming honours Canadian soldiers who fought at Juno Beach
For years, it was simply known as the Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge.
Today, that important south Ottawa link took on an important new name: the Juno Beach Memorial Bridge.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day so this bridge is a fitting tribute; a connection between the past and the present and a visual reminder to keep on the path towards peace.
In the shadow of the airport parkway bridge, military members and residents gathered to recognize the accomplishments of thousands of Canadian soldiers 75 years ago, renaming the steel and cement structure after the superhuman efforts of the allied forces during the Battle of Normandy.
“By renaming this bridge the Juno Beach Memorial Bridge here in Ottawa,” Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson told the crowd, “we salute all those who have served.”
Codenamed "Operation Overlord", the battle was the turning point for the allies during World War Two, with the Canadians assigned to Juno Beach.
Meriel Bradford is the Director of the Juno Beach Centre, “75 years ago,” she said at the ceremony, “allies launched this major operation, operation Overlord.”
Her father was a D-Day vet, a planner in the Canadian general staff in Britain, she explains, who helped plan the landings. Her mother was a war bride and she was born just a month before D-Day.
“People learned a lot about Vimy because we had 100th anniversary,” she says, “but Juno doesn't have the same resonance, and in fact it was as major a moment in Canadian history as Vimy was. As I said, the birth of a nation, but then a coming of age and a realization of who we were as individual country.”
The councillor for the area, Riley Brockington, says the name is a fitting tribute.
“It's a beautiful bridge,” he says, “It is a connection between two communities providing safe passage for everyone who uses it.”
It was Amanda Purdy's idea to name this pedestrian bridge the Juno Beach Memorial Bridge. A resident of the area, she was so struck by the accomplishments of Canadians at Juno that she named her dog after the battle.
“My girls thought Juno would be a good name for the dog,” she says, “so we named the dog Juno. Now every time we go the park, we call out “Juno” and people say, “Like the beach?” so it gives us an opportunity to talk about Juno Beach and D-Day. That's how it all came about.”
And so, this connection between two communities becomes a connection between the past and the present and a reminder to never forget Juno Beach.