Our time spent this Remembrance Day in Vimy and Souchez was powerful. To stand where so many gave their lives so we could have the freedom we share today. It was a spiritual experience that I will forever hold deep within my soul.
The monument on Vimy Ridge dominates the sky for miles. Built in remembrance of the 66,000 Canadian soldiers killed or missing in action during the Great War. Canada captured Vimy Ridge after four long days of a brutal battle. At the unbearable loss of 3600 lives. The French and British had previously tried to recapture the ridge from the Germans but with no success. Some believe that this win at Vimy Ridge was the birth of Canada as a nation.
Statues of peace, hope, liberty, and honour look upon the valley with such sorrow. The landscape is now shaped with the quiet green trenches where the ghosts of so many whisper in the gentle breeze. The serene forest of trees, in a blanket of fog, all planted in memory of each soldier lost. The trumpet filling the air with the sound of loss and grief. The poppies decorating the tomb of the unknown soldier. The names of 11, 285 Canadian soldiers with unknown graves, carved into the brilliant smooth rock.
The history in Northern France holds the ghosts of so many. Villages completely destroyed and 100’s of thousands dead. The horror that occurred here is hard to grasp. The French are resilient and rebuilt with grace and gratitude. They hold the memory of what was close to their hearts. Thank you Maryse and Bernard for your kindness. You have given us memories that will last a life time.
The Lantern Tower of Notre-Dame-de-Lorrete sends the signal of hope through the night sky, visible in the surrounding countryside for 70 km. Every night since the 1930’s. Built from ashes alongside the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Loretta. Surrounded by the graves of over 44,000 soldiers who fell defending their country.
The procession of young and old who walk every November 11th the kilometre to the Notre-Dame-de-Lorrete. The bagpipes echo off the Ring of Remembrance, a monument that holds the names of 580,000 soldiers. All who perished in the Great War, in alphabetical order, regardless of nation, rank or religion.
On the return walk to Souchez with a torch in hand. The flames illuminating the night sky with peace and understanding.
“The torch, be yours to hold it high.”
A beautiful and inspiring sight to behold.
There are so many more monuments throughout Europe that honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in both Wars. Cemeteries scattered in the towns and in amoungst the fields. Soldiers buried where they died, their graves dug by their comrades in arms.
I felt honored to stand where so many gave themselves for freedom. For justice, truth and love. I am so blessed to share this experience with my own children. That they are beginning to understand and appreciate history and how it has shaped the world as it is today. So grateful, that it is in their young hearts, hope can be found for the future.
Listen to the whispers of our ancestors.
For they are telling us to embrace diversity and love. Peace and compassion.
Hold them close and never forget.
We will remember.