“Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, Canadian soldiers bravely stormed the beaches of Normandy — running into machine gun fire, land mines and years of built-up German defences — to help the Allied forces liberate France from the Nazis.

“The hard-fought battle claimed thousands of lives, as it marked a turning point in the war and paved the way for the liberation of western Europe from German occupation. As we honour the memory of those who fought and died, we also pay tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom and democracy that has guided Canada's history.

“Throughout the course of the war, thousands of Canadians joined the armed forces voluntarily. Too many of them never came home. Almost 150,000 Allied troops stormed the French beaches on D-Day, including 14,000 Canadians. Total Allied casualties on D-Day reached more than 10,000, including 1,096 Canadian casualties.

“The Canadians' efforts once again earned them a reputation as fierce and determined fighters, and their losses are remembered with pride and gratitude.

“Alberta played a significant role during D-Day in the Second World War by contributing soldiers, pilots and resources, such as the 401 Tactical Fighter, to the Allied forces. For 100 years, the 401 Squadron, now based at CFB Cold Lake, has played an active role in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“Only a few days ago, we marked Canadian Armed Forces Day, and today provides us one more opportunity to remember the dedicated and courageous work of our soldiers, sailors and aviators. Once again, I encourage everyone to remember and honour the courage, bravery and selflessness shown by those who serve, no matter when and where that service has been given. The world we live in today is significantly shaped by them.

“Among all the Allied countries, only a few veterans of D-Day and the Second World War remain among us. We owe them and their fallen comrades so much. May we never forget their sacrifice and always strive to uphold the values of freedom and democracy that they fought so valiantly to defend.”