Todd Comemorates Vimy Ridge

Brigadier-General Alexander Ross famously said that when he looked out across the battlefield at Vimy Ridge, he saw “Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade.” He felt that he was witnessing “the birth of a nation.”

Every year we must reflect and pay our respects to the honourable Canadian soldiers who sacrificed their lives at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France, Easter Monday, 1917.

I had the opportunity yesterday to lay a wreath on behalf of Ontario at a commemorative service in the warm sunshine at the Belleville Cenotaph to remember the sacrifices at Vimy.

It was 98 years ago that the four divisions of the Canadian Forces came together for the first time to occupy the French hill at Vimy Ridge from the German army. This allied victory was a significant milestone for our country as we joined together as one nation to defend our freedom during the First World War. However, we can’t forget that this success came with great sacrifice.

Throughout the three-day battle, more than 15,000 brave Canadians overtook the Germans under heavy fire. At the highest peak of the ridge where the memorial now stands, soldiers battled machine guns with their bayonets in a long, costly fight to victory. Some 3,600 Canadians were killed during the three days and another 7,000 wounded.

With the 100th anniversary just two years away, I’m proud to stand here on behalf of all members of the Ontario Legislature to pay our respects to those who gave their lives so that we can live free in Canada.

Back in France, a radiant Vimy sculpture stands as a tribute to the fine men and women from the First World War. The memorial has a statue of a woman representing Canada, a young nation mourning her dead. Below is a tomb to remind us of the soldiers killed in France who have no graves. We will remember them.

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