3,598 – number of Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge
7,000 – number of Canadians wounded at Vimy Ridge
These are the numbers, the statistics. But we must always remember they are not just numbers or statistics; they represent real people, who laid down their lives for our freedoms. They left behind families. They were someone’s brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, cousin, aunt or uncle.
World War One, from a Canadian perspective, was both our greatest sorrow and our finest hour. Perhaps no single battle symbolized this better than Vimy Ridge. During four days in April of 1917, four divisions of Canadians fighting together as a unified force for the first time did what many felt was impossible.
They took Vimy Ridge. It was our coming of age as a nation and April 9, 1917 is a date that all Canadians should know well. It was a defining moment in Canadian history and we all have the responsibility to make sure this history is never forgotten.
On April 9th this year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of this historic battle. Unfortunately, a recent poll conducted by the Vimy Foundation shows that while four out of five Canadians knew it was a famous battle, only 47 percent of those surveyed knew it took place in the First World War. That is why it is critical to do what we can to ensure that the memories of our brave Canadian soldiers live on.
This Vimy Day, as we remember the battle that shaped our great nation, please take a moment to share the story with your children or grandchildren, support your local Legion, wear a Vimy pin and spread the message on social media.
Most importantly, remember the cost of war and the soldiers that served our country so bravely. Think of the 3,598 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice at Vimy Ridge, the families they left behind, and the 7,000 wounded.
Having had the opportunity to visit Vimy Ridge with my son a few years ago, it is an experience that has a profound effect upon you. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this site, take a few moments to reach down and feel the grass. This is the life that grows from the dirt and mud soaked by courageous blood; shed by young men in the cause of freedom.
The taking of Vimy Ridge was a galvanizing moment for Canada – helping us forge the bonds of nationhood. Over the decades since, those bonds have been tested, however, like the courage of our soldiers at Vimy Ridge, they continue to hold strong.
Lest we forget.