Sunday, May 08, 2005
Prime Minister Paul Martin greets veteran Charles Laforce during a VE Day parade in Ottawa Sunday. (CP/Jonathan Hayward)
OTTAWA (CP) - Waves of cheers and applause rolled down Wellington Street in front of the Parliament Buildings on Sunday as thousands of veterans paraded to mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day.
In what was likely the last hurrah of the Second World War vets - the average vet is about 84 - the old soldiers, sailors and airmen marched and rode past thousands of spectators who lined the road for blocks.
Some of the vets managed to march the route from the National War Memorial to the site of the new Canadian War museum, perhaps two kilometres away. Despite their years, they stepped out smartly, arms swinging in time with the march music, heads held high.
The bells of the Peace Tower played vintage tunes such as the White Cliffs of Dover as the parade stepped off.
Vets also rode vintage war vehicles, from trucks, jeeps, ambulances and motorcycles to tanks and tracked Bren-gun carriers. Others were carried on modern armoured vehicles and some rode buses.
Spectators clapped until their hands were sore as the old troopers went past. Cheers and whistles echoed across the pavement.
"We're her because of them," said 16-year-old Sara Clark as she and her friends watched the parade.
An estimated 10,000 people, including veterans, dignitaries, serving soldiers and cadets took part in a short service at the war memorial to mark the anniversary of the end of the war in Europe in 1945.
Prime Minister Paul Martin and Opposition Leader Stephen Harper were among those who placed wreaths in memory of more than 40,000 Canadians killed during the war.
The remembrance ceremonies continued with the official opening of the $136-million war museum.