Veterans honoured in Sherbrooke
Yesterday, my uncle Roland Moisan, now more than 92 years old, a veteran who survived D-Day, received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest award, for his role during World War II.
My uncle was a volunteer who left for Europe in 1941. It was a long trip: three weeks. The ships had to avoid German submarines. When they got to Liverpool, bombs were falling.
The day my uncle and fellow soldiers left England, they did not know what duty had been assigned to them. The débarquement, D-Day, had to be a secret. The soldiers loaded what they were told to load unto boats and it turned out their destination was Normandy.
I visited all the beaches and cliffs of the débarquement. How did they survive? My uncle says that those who should be decorated are his fallen comrades. He was then tall, strong, nimble and the soldiers had been well-trained.
There was no disorder, but they were in hell. Men were falling. It must have been horrible to see comrades killed. When this happens, one must wonder why one is spared death.
A Moment of Grace
As the soldiers who had survived travelled north, towards Germany, my uncle was transporting young prisoners of war. Two of them got ahold of him and lowered his head. He lost his rifle. If these prisoners had not lowered my uncle’s head, it would have been severed by a wire. They had saved his life. One of the prisoners then picked up the fallen rifle and returned it to my uncle, smiling.
These soldiers were the innocent victims of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. That’s what they were, and so was my uncle. Roland Moisan says he will never forget that one moment. It was a moment of grace.
© Micheline Walker
9 November 2015