It’s Memorial Day in the US today, so this post is somewhat timely. I was lucky enough to be in Europe on holiday this past week. Our trip this time included a visit to Vimy Ridge – the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
Today, the landscape around the magnificent Vimy Memorial is peaceful and quiet. Solemn. Sheep graze the grounds just beyond the fence, oblivious to the horrors that took place there once upon a time.
But as the annals of history tell us, Vimy, just 10 clicks north of Arras in France, was the site of fierce fighting in World War 1. The grounds around the memorial are littered with hummocks and craters – markers of the horrific explosions set off all those years ago. Many, many lives were lost, but the capture of the narrow ridge by the Canadian forces in 1917 marked a significant moment in Canada’s history during the war.
We walked the trenches and the tunnels on a guided tour to stories about the courage, valour and ingenuity of the young men for fought a horrifying battle all those years ago. We also heard stories of humanity between the men who were enemies across the trenches. These stories are echoed all along the Western Front.