Soldiers march in Calgary, in honour of Vimy Ridge

21 Avril, 2017, 16:30 | Author: Marc Bacque

In the wee hours of April 9, 1917 - Easter Monday - more than 20,000 Canadians who'd spent the night crouching in the mud and rainy cold finally left their trenches to advance on the ridge known as Vimy.

PARIS (AP) — More than 20,000 people, a lot of them Canadians, attended a solemn ceremony Sunday to commemorate a World War I battle in northern France that remains indelibly etched on Canada's national identity 100 years after it happened.

Canadian soldiers on Saturday attend the sunset ceremony at Vimy Canadian National Memorial, on the eve of the ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary.

The Canadians succeeded on April 9, 1917, battling through snow and sleet to push out the Germans who had long held the strategic post.

"Those spires stand for peace and for freedom", Gov. Gen. David Johnston said, indicating the white towers of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial behind him.

Almost 3,600 Canadians died and another 7,000 were wounded during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which is believed by many to be Canada's introduction to the world as a mature, independent nation.

The province contributed to the First World War with 45,000 troops.

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"Today, as people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gather to mark the 100 anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, there will be hard memories of loss and of suffering, but also memories of many heroic acts of bravery and of sacrifice on the part of those who served". It occurred on the blood-soaked escarpment of Vimy Ridge in France where soldiers from every corner of our nation, and many from our province, accomplished what other nations could not.

There had been bloodier battles for the Canadians - 24,000 were killed or wounded at the Somme as compared to 11,000 at Vimy.

The president said: "Those that fought at Vimy tell us that nationalism only leads to war and that fundamentalism only leads to destruction".

"A century ago, soldiers from throughout Alberta and across Canada banded together to take on a challenge unlike anything our country had faced before", Mitchell said.

"These trees are direct descendants of acorns collected following the battle, and they will be planted in a circular pattern four deep to represent the four divisions". Let us remember those soldiers who sacrificed so much and let us strive always for a better understanding of our history and for peace. "We had Brits fighting side-by-side with Canadians, and it's only appropriate that they're here with us today".

"Many historians and writers consider the Canadian victory at Vimy a defining moment for Canada, when the country emerged from under the shadow of Britain and felt capable of greatness", he said.

They've been in the country since Thursday, visiting historic sites from the First World War.

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