Canada’s War Memorial was quiet Thursday morning as rain moved the 80th anniversary of D-Day ceremony indoors.

Ottawa held its ceremony at City Hall because of the potential for thunderstorms Thursday morning, however the storms did not occur during the 40-minute event.

The ceremony featured representatives from the U.K. and France as well as Canadian soldiers who payed their respects to those who died 80 years ago.

Defence Minister Bill Blair led the federal government representation along with Veterans Affairs Minister Ginette Petipas-Taylor. In a joint statement, the two ministers said”

“The success our troops achieved in Normandy was a pivotal moment in Canadian and global history. As we mark this milestone, we encourage all Canadians to reflect on the sacrifices made by our military heroes on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.”

The ceremony in Ottawa was held to remember and honour those who took part in the allied landing in Normandy, France opening the long-promised second front that would be the beginning of the end of Nazi-occupation of France and other countries in Europe. Soviet Union forces were at that time driving back German forces in the East.

Poor weather was a feature that June morning in 1944 when the largest naval, air and land operation in history happened. The battle cost the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers, including some 359 Canadians killed.

In all 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, however only 13 returned to France this year, the oldest 104 years of age, for the anniversary ceremonies, one of five landing points along the Normandy shore that were attacked by allied soldiers. Juno was the responsibility of the Canadians. On the day, the Canadians were able to advance the furthest.

It would take almost another year, however, before the Germans were finally defeated.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by William, Prince of Wales and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.

“There are no words to describe the immensity of the debt we owe you,” the prime minister told the veterans in his Juno beach address on a sunny morning in Normandy.

“We all have a responsibility to continue to share those stories so that future generations don’t forget the heroism and the courage it took to defend our freedoms, and to remember the dangers and the horrors of war”

But the prime minister’s speech was also mindful that a destructive and brutal war is once again being fought in Europe caused by an aggressor, Russia, which invaded neighbouring Ukraine in February, 2022.

And that democracy too is challenged.

“Democracy is still under threat today,” the PM said. “It is threatened by aggressors who want to redraw borders. It is threatened by demagoguery, misinformation, disinformation, foreign interference.”

Prince William acknowledged the courage of soldiers on the day, saying: “Standing here today, in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that very day.”

The ceremonies on Thursday also included an international ceremony at Omaha Beach with U.S. President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and French President Francois Macron in attendance.

And King Charles III, under treatment for cancer, honoured the 22,442 British troops who died in the Battle of Normandy at another ceremony.