April 07, 2017

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

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The Battle at Vimy Ridge, DND Archives

Canada’s Armed Forces have played a vital role in many battles and peacekeeping missions around the globe – but the Battle of Vimy Ridge holds special significance for all Canadians.

After four days of hardships and sacrifice that few can scarcely imagine, the soldiers at Vimy Ridge achieved a victory that still resonates to this very day.

Their valour not only contributed to the eventual Allied victory in the First World War, but marked Canada’s coming of age as a nation.

From that day forward, the world’s powers took notice that the Canadian people had earned their place in the world and could contribute on a world-wide scale.

The fact that people across this country are able to celebrate our freedom and democracy is an ever-lasting testament to the legacy that they left for all Canadians.

Among the tens of thousands who served at Vimy Ridge, nearly 4,000 made the ultimate sacrifice – including more than 400 who called Saskatchewan home.

While every Canadian soldier demonstrated remarkable courage during that fierce battle –  Private William Milne was one of just four awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and valour.

Crawling on hands and knees, Private Milne captured two enemy machine gun positions, undoubtedly saving the lives of many of his comrades.

Unfortunately, Private Milne was among those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his selfless actions.

He will be forever commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France; he also lives on in the memories of his descendants and a grateful nation.

Having emigrated from Scotland to a farm near Moose Jaw, it is fitting that we will honour him in his adopted hometown on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge this weekend.

Thanks to men like Private William Milne, all Canadians are free to celebrate our country’s 150th anniversary this year.

To pay tribute to these heroes, this Sunday, April 9, the Government of Saskatchewan will host an outdoor ceremony, a reception and exhibit at the Legislative Building.

Earlier in the day the Royal Canadian Legion will hold a ceremony at the Victoria Park Cenotaph.

On Wednesday, April 12, at the MacKenzie Art Gallery – the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan will screen a four-part video series memorializing the First World War.

I believe the men of Vimy Ridge can rest eternally at peace. They have passed the torch to good hands and today’s Canadian Armed Forces are indeed holding it high.

Greg Lawrence is the MLA for Moose Jaw Wakamow and serves as Saskatchewan Military Liaison, the Saskatchewan Party government’s main contact with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces in Saskatchewan

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