Normandy: Where History Comes Alive

Terry Reynolds - NJC Staff
During the Second World War, the D-Day landings on the Normandy Beaches under the code name “Operation Neptune” began the lengthy battle of Normandy, which eventually resulted in the liberation of Paris. Canadian forces landed at Juno Beach to face heavy artillery, suffering 50 percent casualties on the first wave. By the end of D-Day, a total of 30,000 Canadians had been successfully landed, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had penetrated further into France than any other Allied force.

In 2003, the Juno Beach Centre opened to memorialize the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during the liberation of Europe. NJC students gain a first-hand appreciation for this important period in Canada's history during this academic trip to Normandy.

Read more below from Mr. Reynold's experience at Juno Beach, and his connection to our Canadian forces. 
I have had the good fortune of bringing several years of NJC students to the D Day landings, including Canada’s own Juno Beach. Everytime we return, I go to the kiosk wall outside the Centre to see the names of my father, my two uncles, and my father-in-law, all who spent their youth fighting the Nazis. One of my uncles paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Walking along Juno Beach, walking in the footsteps of those who gave so much is often a profound and moving experience for our students and a meaningful way to finish the year’s European odyssey. It seems especially impactful to the sons and daughters of our military families as they reflect upon the heroic legacy of those who came before.

As a teacher and a son of a vet from this conflict, I never get tired of seeing history come alive through the eyes of our students. Enjoying a fine French meal at the end of the day in the beautiful town of Caen, I like to think that my dad and his thousands of bands of brothers, might be looking on, realizing that the celebration of life and freedom for future generations made sure the sacrifices were not in vain.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand what it means in 2024 to be a Canadian, but looking out over the dunes and sea at Juno and walking through the graves adorned with maple leaves, perhaps we gain just a little more insight.
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap