Each year on November 11, Canadians pause to remember. We pause to recognize the men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces who have put their lives on the line past and present to protect our freedoms and way of life.
One hundred years ago this past April, Canada emerged as a country in what many call its “coming of age”. It had been 50 years since Confederation when the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought and won by Canadian troops, the first time that all four Canadian divisions fought together. Canadians from all corners of the country took part, however, the victory came with a great cost to Canada. Of 15,000 Canadians that began the battle together, 3,598 were killed and another 7,000 wounded.
Brigadier-General A.E. Ross said it best when he declared: “in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation”. Today, on Hill 145, the highest peak of the Ridge, stands the Vimy Monument, in recognition of the servicemen who fought for our freedom. Unveiled in 1936, the tall white marble structure now stands as a reminder of the 11,285 Canadians who were killed in France during the first World War and have no known graves.
As we mark our 150th year as a nation this year, it is fitting to remember the brave young Canadians who fought for our place on the world stage. And as we pause this November, to honour those who have fallen before us, and all those who currently serve to protect us, I encourage you to remember the more than 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout our 150 years as a nation, more than 118,000 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Lest we forget.