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VIDEO: Membertou man remembers sacrifice made by his grandfather


'Freedom is not free'

MEMBERTOU, N.S. —

Troy Paul says his grandfather believed it was his patriotic duty to fight against oppression.

That’s why Charles Doucette enlisted in the Canadian military to fight in the Second World War, leaving his four daughters behind at home in Membertou.

Charles Doucette enlisted in the Canadian military to fight in the Second World War.
Charles Doucette enlisted in the Canadian military to fight in the Second World War.

“He volunteered and he went overseas,” Paul said.

“Freedom is not free — people died and they fought for the freedom that we enjoy today.”

On Monday, Paul and other members of his family — brothers Lance and John G., sister Sharon Rudderham and one of Doucette’s daughters, Marie — laid a wreath in his honour at Membertou’s annual Remembrance Day service, held at St. Anne’s Church. The service, which included a mass, attracted an overflow crowd of people from the community and beyond wanting to pay tribute to those who have served Canada.

Pte. Doucette enlisted in the North Nova Scotia Highlanders when the Second World War broke out. He was sent to England with other men from his regiment, where they were trained for the eventual invasion of France.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, more than 130,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed the beaches of Normandy.

Doucette’s regiment along with the Sherbrooke Fusiliers moved on to Authie, not far from the coast, in an effort to take an airfield.

The grave of Pte. Charles Doucette in France.
The grave of Pte. Charles Doucette in France.

Paul noted they came near Abbaye d’Ardenne, headquarters to Kurt Meyer, Commander of the 25th S.S. Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 12th S.S. Panzer Division.

During the attack on the Nazis, Doucette was captured along with other Canadian soldiers.

“The Canadians were taken as prisoners of war in a counter-attack … they asked for 10 volunteers from those individuals for interrogation, but essentially what happened was that these first 10 individuals from the North Novies were summarily beaten and interrogated and eventually shot in the back of the head,” Paul said.

“Each one wasn’t found until after the D-Day battle was over.”

The bodies — including Doucette’s — were found almost a year later.

Paul noted he and several family members travelled to mark the 75th anniversary and were able to take part in a special ceremony at the Le Cambe German war graves cemetery.

“It was basically a story of full circle — I was able to go there and express my sense of forgiveness and peace in my own heart toward the German people and what they did to my grandfather,” Paul said. “I felt it was important for myself and everyone to move forward and not to be hateful but to be mindful of the sacrifice that they gave.”

Remembrance has always been important to Paul and his family. He also took part in last week’s service held at Membertou’s school.

“I think it’s so important to make sure that future generations are cognizant of exactly what sacrifices past generations have given in order to enjoy the freedom that we have today,” he said.

Stephen Christmas of Membertou, a veteran of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Egypt and Cyprus, was among those who have served overseas to take part in Membertou's annual Remembrance Day ceremony, held at St. Ann's Church in the Mi'kmaq community Monday.
Stephen Christmas of Membertou, a veteran of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Egypt and Cyprus, was among those who have served overseas to take part in Membertou's annual Remembrance Day ceremony, held at St. Ann's Church in the Mi'kmaq community Monday.

Paul was pleased to see the large turnout at Monday’s ceremony, but said he fears the increasing polarization that he sees developing among people.

“Whether it’s the reconciliation issue with Aboriginal people or whether it’s injustice around the world in terms of right-wing radicals, in terms of people who are against things just because, and there’s no middle ground these days,” Paul said. “There’s no room for dialogue, there’s no room for open discussion.”

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