A couple years ago, I visited Juno Beach in Normandy. It was surreal to be on the same sand where thousands died and my grandfather risked his life.
Walmart Canada was a contributor to the Juno Beach Centre, raising millions of dollars to support the museum in Normandy, France. Walmart held annual national fundraising campaigns for the Juno Beach Centre Association, which owns and operates the centre that honours Canadian heroes from the Second World War.
My grandfather never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him. He considered himself “lucky” because he made it home to his family. Until the day he died, he was extremely proud of what he did for his country.
My grandpa is my hero. He inspired me to join the Canadian Armed Forces, where I learned the importance of leadership, gratitude, resilience, selflessness and dedication.
I applied for the military a week after my 17th birthday – the same age as my grandfather. I entered basic training at CFB Wainwright in Alberta, where I was with one of the first groups in Canada to be trained by regular forces for an eight-week bootcamp.
It was gruelling – we had one day off in over 60 days of training. The schedule included 15-kilometre hikes, obstacle course training, overnight combat training, unmasked tear gas exposure and physical fitness testing. On a good night, you might get five hours of sleep. I was exhausted.
After eight weeks, most had quit, but I made it. I’ve always been so proud of this part of my life.