Written for Carol Hughes, MP
Outstanding Canadians shape our country every day and while we celebrate the 99th anniversary of the very significant Battle of Vimy Ridge, locally, we should celebrate the battle to have the day recognized as well. Vimy Ridge marked a major Canadian victory and a turning point, in both World War I and our history, that has allowed us to become the country we are. But, it’s thanks to the efforts of Elliot Lake resident and veteran, Robert Manuel, that Vimy Ridge Day is recognized and celebrated as a national heritage day in Canada.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge remains a cornerstone in our history not only because it is a military victory, but because it highlights many of our central values as Canadians. Technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, and teamwork were vital to its success as all four divisions of Canadian soldiers gathered as a united fighting force for the first time ever.
In the months that followed the victory, Canada earned signing rights for the Treaty of Versailles and control over its foreign affairs. Thanks to the reputation gained by the success and sacrifices from our troops, Canada was able to take the last step toward full independence as a nation.
Vimy Ridge Day commemorates the deaths and casualties of members of the Canadian Corps during this First World War battle. In a time where people’s busy lives threaten to cast a shadow over this defining moment in the development of our country, it’s up to us to preserve this legacy. After all, we no longer have any First World War veterans with us to share their stories of the tragedy of war, of bravery, and of the many reasons they chose to stand up and defend our country.
Robert Manuel showed how important it is that we are reminded of the great sacrifices and achievements from these Canadians on behalf of our country during the Battle of Vimy Ridge when he garnered support from people of all walks of life to have this day nationally recognized in 1988. Mr. Manuel is an executive member of the Elliot Lake Legion Branch 561 and founding member of its marching band. He has contributed in many acknowledgeable ways to his community and country and continues to do so to this day.
It is impressive when members of our communities dedicate themselves for what they believe in. Without these determined people, important days and moments such as Vimy Ridge, which shape our country, would risk falling through the cracks and being forgotten. It’s equally important that we recognize the people who have helped us understand the significance of honoring such moments and let them know that we greatly appreciate their efforts.
That is why on this, and every, April 9th, we honour those who fought and sacrificed 99 years ago and those who worked to have Vimy Ridge Day recognized as an annual heritage day. It’s thanks to them that the legacy of Vimy lives and we remember that Canada can and has achieved the unachievable.