Battle of Vimy Ridge—One Hundredth AnniversaryPublished on 11 April 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, 100 years ago today the Canadian Corps was embroiled in fierce fighting near a small French village named Vimy. The battle lasted from April 9 to April 12, claiming over 3,500 Canadian lives and leaving over 7,000 others wounded. For scores of Canadians, the name “Vimy” holds quasi-mystical significance. One hundred years, honourable senators, is a very long time.
While there will always be those impassioned by the study of Vimy and other battles, poring over maps, photographs and letters, for many Canadians the details of the battle, the war as a whole, are fading into the haze of history. Yet Vimy remains a power that transcends description.
This is perhaps contributed to by Walter Seymour Allward’s masterfully designed memorial, which has stood centuries over those hallowed grounds, defying even the Nazis to deny its significance.
In Timothy Findley’s 1977 classic The Wars, one character remarks:
All I’ll hope is — they’ll remember we were human beings.
Canadian scholar Gwynne Dyer wrote that:
The soldier . . . has changed remarkably little over the five thousand years or so that . . . armies have existed.
Why is this, if not that soldiers have always been human beings? Time may relegate the tactics of the battle to obsolescence, the politics of the time to irrelevance and the faces in grainy photographs to anonymity, but the humanity of those who fight and die, the youth and the aspirations forfeited, the faith that all which is sacrificed is not in vain, these truths endure. So it is for this reason that I would encourage all Canadians to take a moment to reflect on the thousands we lost at Vimy and the tens of thousands we lost in the First World War.
I would encourage Canadians to remember all our veterans, men and women, from every corner of this country serving in every corner of the world, at Kapyong and Kandahar, Juno and at Vimy. Whether they know all these names or none of them, whether the battle was a day long or a century ago, Canadians should know that those who fought were human beings like you and I, fighting not to be remembered but so that those who do remember should do so as Canadians. Lest we forget.