Jessica Metuzals is an environmental science student at Queen’s university. The 19-year-old Ottawa native was awarded the Vimy Beaverbrook Prize — an essay-writing contest — four years ago, sending her to Europe for a summer study program.
Today is the 94th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. A battle that change our country’s history, it was the first time Canada fought as a unified force. In 2007, I won the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize — a scholarship program that brings together youth from Canada, France and the United Kingdom to study our countries intertwined history.
Visiting Vimy Ridge was one of the most defining moments as a Canadian. The sky-towering monument sits on a small hill overlooking farmland. Even though this memorial is so far for the lost soldiers homeland it is truly where our national identity was born. The thousands of names inscribed on the white limestone represents the 60 000 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during First World War. The stark contrast between the architectural beauty and the scarred landscape will forever remain with me.
Few people in our generation understand and appreciate the sacrifices of war. We are so far removed from the gruesome reality of the battlefield, it is difficult, maybe impossible, to truly understand the brutalities and heroism. But those soldiers died for our future — a future they believed in.
I challenge you to connect to our past this weekend, and remember the soldiers who no longer have anyone to remember their story.
Here are some ideas to pay respects in Ottawa this weekend:
- Visit the Canadian War Museum.
- Attend the commemorative Vimy Ceremony, taking place at 10 am Saturday, at the National War Memorial (or Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) on Elgin Street.
- Like the Vimy Foundation on Facebook.
Or check out these links…
Thanks for your touching, first-hand account Jessica. Whether or not you’ve visited Vimy, it represents a proud moment for all Canadians.