Thursday, April 13, 2017

Two Celebrations: Part I -- 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

We have made several trips to World War I and II war sites in Europe over the past 15 years.  These sites never fail to move us.  Several uncles and many friends from the Taber, Alberta, Canada area fought in World War II and I have always had a great appreciation for those who fought and died and for those who fought and lived so that my children and I could enjoy the freedoms we do.

Vimy Ridge in France was thought to be impossible to take from the Germans.  But on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1917, 100,000 Canadians went "over the top" and took the ridge in four days.  In gratitude, France gave Canada 107 hectares (about 265 acres) of land on which to build a memorial.  It is a stunning memorial and the two times I have seen it, I have been intensely proud to be a Canadian.

This year, the 100th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place on Palm Sunday.

Two celebrations:  one of a battle that led to freedom and one of a Man who died giving all men freedom as they choose to follow Him.  (See Part II)



The Vimy Memorial can be seen for miles around.  It is 110 meters above ground level.  It shines bright white against the blue French sky.  This photo is from our 2008 trip as we are approaching the monument.  The breeze was just right to display the French, Canadian, and British flags.

Two of our sons -- Eric and Craig -- came with us on this trip and they were moved, as LeRon and I were.  It was a beautiful, chilly March morning.
Canada brings over Canadian university students to work as guides at the monument for 6 months at a time.  The young Canadian girl was thrilled to give fellow Canadians an explanation of the gorgeous, evocative sculptures on the monument and their meanings.

This sculptured woman represents a young Canada weeping over the loss of so many of her citizens.  The green field she looks over was very different in 1917.  It was a vast, crater-filled, empty land of mud, snow, and soldiers fighting from trenches and tunnels.
Although it was too early to tour the tunnels (because of weather), our guides made an exception for us as Canadians, and led us through part of the underground tunnels in which Canadian soldiers lived for weeks at a time.  They had to keep quiet as the enemy was only hundreds of feet away in their own tunnels and trenches.

A tiny sleeping room in the tunnels.  I don't know how those soldiers survived the tunnels.  Probably through much prayer, even by those who were unsure of God.

The trenches have been permanently preserved with sand bags of cement.  Enemies were only feet away from each other.  The trees you see in the picture have grown up since the war.  At the time, it was a vast, empty area.  There are still unexploded shells in much of the area so it is off-limits.

Hard to imagine the condition of the original trenches.  Mud and rats and cold.  If you ever have the chance to visit this amazing memorial, please do so!

2 comments:

  1. Wow! I don't think I've actually seen your photos of Vimy Ridge before. That's so neat. Can't imagine.

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  2. Lovely post. Thanks so much for instilling this love and appreciation for the history of our freedom. I loved our trip to the WWI and WWII sites.

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