Mark Canada's Triumph and Losses at Vimy Ridge

To mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, not only was there a ceremony held in France, many local ones were held too. Four military divisions from the nation attacked together for the first time as the Canadian Corps, and their bravery in breaking German defences earned them worldwide respect.

The Battle of Vimy marks a significant turning point in Canadian history.

The crowd was the biggest for the series of centenary commemorations of World War I battles in France and five times bigger than for the commemoration of the Battle of Verdun in May past year.

"We commemorate and thank those who gave of their lives, so that we can preserve the freedom of today", said Saracino. Almost 3600 Canadian soldiers died over the four brutal days of the battle, and over 7000 were wounded.

"We're here to remember those men who really helped change what was a colony into an autonomous sovereign nation, Canada, and it's a huge privilege for British soldiers to be allowed to come here and join this parade", said Col. Marcus Evans, British Army Training Unit Suffield.

Princes Harry and William of Britain dropped boots symbolizing the dead soldiers, and ceramic poppies.

"Canada, when they took that ridge, took it in four days", he explains.

But for many Canadians it also sparks a fierce sense of nationalism. I can say without hesitation that Manitobans have never forgotten, and we will never forget, the sacrifice made by our fearless men and women in uniform.

But there was one key similarity between that Easter Monday on April 9, 1917, and the scene 100 years later: Canadians stood together, shoulder to shoulder, proudly and unabashedly as one people. "Let's renew our commitment to remember their heroism in the face of suffering and fear".

French President Francois Hollande said the "blue ghosts of Vimy" serve as a reminder, not just of what happened 100 years ago, but what "free peoples" even today must sometimes do to protect peace.

Sunday's ceremony, hosted by the Canadian government, included official speeches, recitations of stories from soldiers and eyewitnesses to the battle, and performances by Canadian artists such as singer Loreena McKennitt.

Starting the commemorations earlier on Sunday, Trudeau and Hollande laid the final red metal discs to form a giant poppy in the central square of the town of Arras, called Heroes' Square.

The cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of soldiers from the Great War, including 700 Canadians.

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