Sixty-seven years have passed and the image of a Hitler ephigy hanging off a rope is still fresh in Sam Omelaniec's memory.
The lifelong Langley resident was seven years old when the Second World War came to an end in 1945.
That May, Omelaniec stood at 203rd Street and Fraser Highway, near his home, watching a victory parade pass by.
"The one thing I remember is, there was Hitler on a gallows on a float. They had him strung up there," Omelaniec recalled. "It's funny that things like that stick with you."
Omelaniec's memories of the Second World War era revolve around his feet.
"You had a hard time getting kids' shoes," he shared. "So I had to wear a pair of girl's shoes that were handed down from my older brother Mike. They had little silver nickel buckles on them. I hated those things but they worked."
In 1956, the then 18year-old Omelaniec joined the Westminster Regiment.
"That was the year that the Russians invaded Hungary, and I remember we were training in Nanaimo at the army training camp, and one of the young men asked, 'Sir, are we going to have a war with the Russians?'"
The officer answered, "Yes, and any day soon."
Those words sent a chill through Omelaniec, because he had a cousin drafted into the Russian army from Belarus.
Omelaniec spent part of his Wednesday sitting alongside his wife Pam at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, where they sold poppies by donation on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion.
War affected Pam Omelaniec's family. Her uncle was killed in the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, during the First World War.
"He was 21," she said. "I have his medals and an actual card he sent. from Egypt just a few days before he died."
Pam was born in Bury, England and said in the UK, people were never told about the Canadian involvement in the conflict.
"When we went to France a few years ago, and I saw those rows and rows of Canadian graves. Brits think, and I'm sure a lot do, that those guys were conscripted. They weren't," she said. "Canadians volunteered, and it's so humbling to go and see, literally, miles and miles of Canadian graves, and two guys were from Cloverdale."
Many Canadians volunteered to fight for our freedom, and Pam said that needs to be related to the younger generation.
Looking back at their visit to Normandy in 2008, Sam recalled that, "One particular headstone that got us. There was a young man in his early 20s, and the writing at the foot of the headstone said, 'Always remembered by your wife and your little son Ronnie.' And that really touched me. You wonder who Ronnie is now. He'd be about my age, I guess."
@ Copyright 2013