The Canadian Influence
Vimy Ridge is a memorial dedicated to the brave Canadian soldiers of the Great War.
You are guided to the monument by the density of Canadian flags proudly displayed by the residents. The monument itself is magnificent. At first all you can focus on is this beautiful mass of cream rock in the middle of the crystal green grass. The adjacent green grass runs for a considerable distance, leaving nothing to distract you from the monument.
The closer you get the more you realise that monument is more than just a list of names carved into the immortal stone. It is a statement.
The land is protecting the Ridge. Not so far to the right is a thicket of trees, with warnings of live ammunition. The trees grow diagonally, just evading each other, much like the soldiers. The other three sides of the Ridge is land scarred by the war, with craters that make the land look like still waves in the middle of the sea.
The part that stuck me the most was Mother Canada. She stands atop this wall with a beautiful view of the countryside and towns in the distance, yet she is focused so intently on the coffin placed directly below, she is in grief over her fallen children.
A short walk away sits the trenches. They sit so close to each other you can hear people cough.
This phrase has been used a lot when it comes to the front line; I can assure you it is absolutely true. The feeling of being able to hear and see the top of your enemy's head must be an overwhelming feeling. Talking in hushed whispers at all times for fear of being overheard, crouch walking whilst eating and sleeping in open topped boggy trenches is not a life or situation anyone would like to be in.
Being in the trenches that men fought in gives you a real sense of what their day to day life was like. It also makes you really appreciative of what you have in that very moment: Dry feet, a safe head, fresh food to eat and best of all a bed at the end of the day.
Although, a visit to Vimy Ridge can be emotional it is also eye-opening. It allowed me to connect with the soldiers who fought on behalf of freedom. The museum at Vimy Ridge trenches also helped, they have stories of people who were directly affected by the war.
Article written by Elle Hartley Smith
The Canadian Influence, 22nd September 2017, 15:22 PM