Today marks the start of the battle of Vimy Ridge, 100 years ago. While I don’t know more about the battle than any other Canadian, I have actually been there.
I visited Vimy when I went to Europe a few years ago, it was one of the things that my dad insisted on seeing, and I’m so glad that he did. (That’s him in the picture on the monument).
One of the crazy things I found was that Europeans don’t actually know about it. While we all learn about the battle, and the monument (it’s even on our money) in class, my family that lived in Belgium (very close to the monument in France) had no idea that it was there. We were able to go with them and they were just as amazed as we were by the things that we saw. In fact it was one of the most exciting things to them.
Another really cool thing is that Vimy Ridge is actually considered to be Canadian land. So while we were in France, the park was run by the Canadian government, including students that we met from Ottawa.
The monument also has the name of every known solider that fought in the battle engraved on it. My dad was even able to find the name of a local ancestor, to send the picture to his family.
It also has a lot of the trenches that were used in the battle still in perfect condition. This allows you to see what the soldiers really lived like, which was fascinating to see. Additionally there are numerous cemeteries on site where many of the fallen soldiers are remembered.
There are so many things to see and do in the world, especially in Europe, but I can’t express enough how amazing it was to be able to visit a site like this that is such an important part of Canadian history. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Vimy Ridge I recommend it. Learn a little bit more of your history by seeing the place that it happened.