From Queen's Park
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Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker reflected on his personal journey to Vimy Ridge by way of this Statement delivered in the Legislature today:
"Speaker, having just returned last evening with my friend and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris from my journey to Vimy Ridge, and with the feeling still heavy in my heart and fresh in my mind, I rise to share some of this humbling experience with my good colleagues in the House, and those watching at home.
I once read that ‘soldiers' graves are the greatest preachers of peace.’
At Vimy, where I walked the fields of craters where 100 years ago our soldiers fought and died and where our 3,598 brave Canadian men now lay peacefully, their places marked out in tidy and perfectly spaced rows, I recalled that quote, and felt an overwhelming sense of Canadian pride, with a solemn yet grateful heart.
Having observed, in reverence, the sight of the thousands of Canadian Armed Forces boots dotted over the ridge, I was reminded of how places like Vimy profoundly shape the way we think about the sacrifices of those who gave their life so we could enjoy the peace, democracy and liberty we cherish in the greatest country in the world that we call home.
The sight of this towering monument on this infamous ridge, along with the soldiers’ boots, was also a stark reminder of our continued struggle for peace around the world, and that we must remain ever diligent in carrying the torch handed to us. With Canadian soldiers, men and women, continuing to serve around the world, against the constant background of danger, it is important to remember the past. I’m a believer that how we remember the past, determines how we will shape our future.
I was humbled to share this appreciation with 25,000 fellow Canadians who paid homage there to our forefathers’ contributions and brave sacrifices in the First World War, and what many believe was the birth of our nation at Vimy.
And that we stood there on those hallowed grounds, shoulder-to-shoulder, with some of our war veterans, the Chief of Defence for Canadian Forces General Vance, members of the Royal Canadian Legions, members of the Vimy Foundation and True Patriot Love Foundation, and some 15,000 students – including Mr. Ryan McManaman’s students from the Owen Sound District Secondary School – made this homage special, and a memory that I will never forget.
I had goose bumps during the ceremony and especially when we sang our Canadian National Anthem.
I am honoured and humbled to have attended this sacred ceremony, and to receive my Pilgrimage Medal. I wore it on April 9th and also shall wear it on November 11th annually as my way of showing my respect to the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice and our veterans who were able to return home, proud in their victory.
As retired Chief of the Defence and passionate patriot, General Rick Hillier shared “every Canadian should make this pilgrimage to Vimy to honour our valiant heroes and truly appreciate our history and how fortunate we are to be Canadians.”
I shall wear my pride with honour every day, General and salute you and every man and woman who wears our armed forces uniform. Lest We Forget.”
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Friday, April 14, 2017