Five members of the Royal Canadian Legion branch 25 and MPP Ross Romano stood more than 6 feet apart today, to remember soldiers who fought and died, shoulder to shoulder, at Vimy Ridge 104 years ago.
Due to the current situation, the dozens of people who would normally be here were missing for yet another year. However, the reason for remembering, no matter the numbers, remains the same.
“Canada made a covenant with these soldiers when they sent them off to war that we would never forget,” said Branch Vice-President Pierre Breckenridge. “We would protect them and keep them in our memories going forward, both the soldiers and their families and it’s important for us to continue that legacy.”
Ross Romano was asked to attend to represent all levels of government. He said given the circumstances it was important for him to be there.
“It’s important to remember, to honor those who fell and who made this opportunity possible for us to all be here,” said Romano. “It’s quiet humbling under the circumstances that we are currently are presently in, to think of all the sacrifice that was made so that we could be here.”
The ceremony was held at the Vimy Oak Tree, which was dedicated in 2018. The tree is a descendant of those which were almost completely wiped out near Vimy Ridge during the war.
Below is a poem I penned recently, reflecting on the last few moments of a Canadian soldier who lost his life on the Ridge.
We emerged from the tunnels to yet another battlefield
eerily silent as we took our post our destiny was sealed.
We were ordered to take a ridge just outside Vimy, France
among the sleet and snow; the angels of death danced
Artillery like we had never seen was set to go just before dawn
the pipers prepared their battle tunes as we hurried along.
We took our stations in the trench a shot of whiskey “to make us brave”
we knew what was ahead then the order came.
Myself and my best friend, who I had known for 15 years,
hoisted ourselves over the trench, facing our fears,
Canadians from coast to coast joined us in knee-deep mud,
trying to accomplish something which to this point hadn’t been done.
The shrapnel fell like rain as we marched across no-mans land,
men falling beside us reached out with dying hands,
then fate became us, we were killed instantly,
by a shell landing between us fired by friend or enemy.
Our comrades took the ridge as we were buried behind the lines
many believe a nation formed that day as they reflect back through time.
over a century later, we are still remembered each year,
for taking a ridge, giving our lives and staying over here.
This ceremony will be held again next year, on Saturday, April 9, 2022 in the Veterans section of Greenwood Cemetery.