It was 93 years ago when Canada truly became a nation. Sure July 1, 1867, is the birthday we celebrate every Canada Day, but it was on a foreign battlefield that we truly had our trial by fire and cut those colonial apron strings.
Before Vimy Ridge we were for the most part regarded as a colony of Britain. Our soldiers fought under the British flag and Buckingham Palace handled our foreign affairs with little input from Ottawa.
Today, as a new generation of young Canadian men and women fight and die on another foreign battleground in Afghanistan we cannot be allowed to lose sight of the high price past generations have paid in blood.
Those soldiers who participated in Vimy probably had no idea of the significance of their fight. None of them thought about how their sacrifice would be honoured nine decades later by a grateful nation. To them, they were in France to beat the Hun and do what they could to serve their fledgling nation and the king.
At the same time, many of them had no doubt become war weary. At the time of Vimy, the First World War had raged for more than three years and the mud of France had been their home and their graveyard for far too long.
Today, several generations later and after the horrors of the Second World War and Korea, not to mention the numerous peacekeeping missions in which our soldiers have served so valiantly we are very familiar with the the responsibilities of being a nation.
At the same time, we must not only look to Remembrance Day as our opportunity to thank those who have served. Each day, the obituaries include the names of those who have served and survived only to lose the battle of time.
We as today’s Canadians and future generations must continue to remember and honour their memories because as the author of In Flanders Fields wrote many years ago “if ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep.” Those words are as fitting today as they were when John McCrae first put pen to paper.