The essence of war remembrance is to make sure the fallen are never forgotten. All it takes is a wreath, a tiny wooden cross, a little token on a faraway grave to show that people still care about their fallen hero, parent or grandparent.
This year, though, the pandemic stepped in, barring all travel for families to visit the Second World War graves in France’s Normandy, where Saturday marks the 76th anniversary of the epic D-Day battle, when allied troops successfully stormed the beaches and turned the war against the Nazis.
So anguished families turned to the next best thing — an Englishman living on D-day territory, a pensioner with a big heart and a small hole in his agenda.
For years, Steven Oldrid, 66, had helping out with D-Day events around the beaches where British soldiers had landed — and often left their lives behind — be it organizing parking, getting pipers to show or getting sponsors for veterans’ dinners.
Laying wreaths though, seemed something special, reserved for families and close friends only.
But in pandemic times, pandemic rules apply. Oldrid was first contacted in March.
“I was actually choked up when I got the first request,” he said. “I’m always on the other side. Always in the background.”
“They asked ‘Steven, can you lay our wreath? Well, they sent me five, and then another one said, ‘Can you lay one for my granddad?’ ‘Can you lay one for my dad’?”
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The disruption of D-Day commemorations comes as the global death toll from COVID-19 passes 395,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Internationally, more than 6.7 million people have been infected with the virus.
In Canada, there are 94,790 confirmed and presumptive cases of the coronarvirus on Saturday, including 34,097 active cases and 52,932 recoveries. According to a CBC tally, 7,761 Canadians have died from the coronavirus as of Saturday morning. There were 610 new cases in Canada on June 5.
Here is the latest pandemic news from around the world.
In the U.S., more than a third of Americans misused cleaners and disinfectants to try to prevent infection by the coronavirus, according to a survey taken shortly after President Donald Trump publicly asked whether injecting such products could treat COVID-19. Washing food with bleach, using household cleaning or disinfectant products on bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting these products were some of the most commonly reported “high-risk” practices in a May 4 online survey of 502 U.S. adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
More than 109,000 people in the U.S. have died ot COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with nearly 1.9 million cases across the country.
Europe could have its free-travel zone up and running again by the end of this month, but travellers from farther afield will not be allowed in before July, a European Union commissioner said Friday after talks among the bloc’s interior ministers.
Free movement is a jewel in Europe’s crown that helps its businesses flourish, and many European officials feared that the very future of the Schengen zone was under threat from coronavirus travel restrictions. These added to border pressures already caused by the arrival in Europe of well over one million migrants in 2015.
“I personally believe that we will return to a full functioning of the Schengen Area and freedom of movement of citizens no later than the end of the month of June,” European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Friday after the video-conference meeting.
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In Spain’s capital Madrid residents wearing face masks queued two metres apart to be among the first visitors back in the city’s famed galleries on Saturday, as the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums reopened after nearly three months of coronavirus lockdown.
Spain has so far recorded 27,134 deaths and 240,978 cases of the coronavirus. It will further ease the lockdown in Madrid and Barcelona from Monday, when bar and restaurant patrons will be allowed to sit inside rather than just on outdoor terraces.
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In Turkey, people streamed outside on Saturday for their first weekend without a coronavirus lockdown in nearly two months, the day after President Tayyip Erdogan suddenly scrapped a stay-at-home order.
Cafes, restaurants and other facilities had reopened on Monday as infection rates slowed and restrictions on intercity travel had been lifted as the infection rate slowed. But Erdogan had intended to maintain the weekend lockdown, applied to big cities since April 11, until a public backlash.
Russia reported 8,855 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, pushing the total number of infections to 458,689. Officials said 197 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official nationwide death toll to 5,725.
Indonesia reported on Saturday its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections, with 993 new cases, taking its total number to 30,514, a health ministry official said. The official, Achmad Yurianto, reported 31 new deaths related to COVID-19, taking the total number of deaths in Indonesia to 1,801.
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India reported a record 9,887 new coronavirus cases in one day on Saturday and overtook Italy as the world’s sixth-biggest outbreak, two days before the relaxing of a lockdown with the reopening of malls, restaurants and places of worship.
With its total number of cases rising to more than 236,000, India now has fewer infections than only the United States, Brazil, Russia, Britain and Spain, according to a Reuters tally.
Published at Sat, 06 Jun 2020 15:04:49 +0000