OTTAWA, Nov. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Blaine Calkins, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin, Alberta, today leads an official Government of Canada delegation to Italy to mark the 70th anniversary of the Italian Campaign. The delegation, including 28 Canadian Veterans, will participate in commemorative ceremonies honouring the nearly 6,000 Canadians who died as a result of the Allied assault on Italy during the Second World War. Minister Fantino will also join the delegation in Italy early next week.
Events marking the 70th anniversary of the Italian Campaign include the following Government of Canada public ceremonies:
- November 24 (3:00 p.m. local time): Ceremony of remembrance at the Cassino War Cemetery. More than 4,200 Commonwealth graves are located at the Cassino War Cemetery, including 855 brave Canadians.
- November 26 (4:00 p.m. local time): Candlelight Ceremony at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in Ortona. Canadian Veterans and approximately 45 Canadian students from the Canadian College Italy will pay tribute to all who served during the Italian Campaign by placing candles around the Cross of Sacrifice in memory of the 1,375 Canadians buried in the cemetery.
- November 28 (10:00 a.m. local time): Ceremony of remembrance at the Villanova Canadian War Cemetery in Bagnacavallo, Villanova, which is one of 37 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries in Italy. It is the final resting place for 206 Canadian soldiers.
- During the Second World War, more than 93,000 Canadians fought to liberate Italy. Almost 6,000 lost their lives.
- Allied forces in Italy faced some of the most difficult fighting in the harshest conditions of the Second World War. During the 20-month campaign, forces often engaged in vicious street fighting in narrow, rubble-filled streets that limited the use of tanks and artillery.
- From 2014-2020, the Government of Canada will mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and key milestone anniversaries of the Second World War, including the 75th anniversary of Canada's engagement in the Second World War.
- The Canadian College Italy (CCI) is Canada's only private high school in Italy.
"It is a privilege to return to Italy to honour and remember the sacrifices of Canadians who fought in the Italian Campaign. As an Italian-born Canadian, I am especially thankful for the peace and freedom they brought to me, my family, and my homeland."
The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"I am pleased to join Veterans of the Italian Campaign to commemorate their service and sacrifices 70 years ago. It is an honour to travel to Italy to remember the 93,000 Canadians who served in the campaign and to pay tribute to the fallen, including my great uncle, Robert Bernard Calkins, who is laid to rest at the Coriano Ridge cemetery."
Blaine Calkins, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Barbara Mottram, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468