Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, yesterday marked the one hundred and second anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Those who have had the opportunity to visit Vimy in the northeast corner of France will know how significant the area was to the allied cause and how magnificent the Vimy Memorial and monument are. Those who have not yet visited the Vimy Memorial, I do hope you take the time to do so. It helps you appreciate the tremendous contribution that Canada has made in the world.
On the morning of April 9, 1917, the first wave of Canadian Corps soldiers began their fight up Vimy Ridge. You can imagine the barbed wire and the mudholes and the bomb craters as they crawled up that hill. Most of Vimy was taken by the end of the day. By April 12, three days later, the Canadians had achieved all their objectives, captured 4,000 soldiers and taken the highest point in the north end of the ridge, which was the coveted area because you could see everywhere.
But the cost was incredible: 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 were severely wounded after the four-day battle.
To honour those who fell and who were wounded, commemorative ceremonies took place yesterday throughout Canada and overseas. At Legions, cenotaphs and war memorials in my home province of New Brunswick and across Canada, here in Ottawa at the National War Memorial and at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, people gathered to pay tribute to those Canadians who fought so bravely. Together we remembered the sacrifice of those who served, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It has often been said that the Battle of Vimy Ridge defined us as a nation. It marked the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together. And together, they accomplished what the French and the British troops had been unable to do. The Canadians retook the ridge. That battle is an important chapter in our history.
Honourable senators, please join with me and all Canadians in recognizing the immense sacrifices made by our Canadian soldiers in their service to this great country.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!