Canadian and French Leaders Pay Homage to Fallen Soldiers at Vimy Ridge

Veterans Affairs Canada organized an evening of remembrance at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

By the end of the First World War, Canada-a country of fewer than eight million people-had more than 650,000 men and women serving in uniform.

According to the Vimy Foundation, 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Exactly 100 years earlier, the scene here had been quite different.

Trudeau was at the site in France surrounded by dignitaries like French President Francoise Hollande and and Britain's Prince Charles.

Millions more are expected to watch and listen by radio and TV, or attend local commemorative ceremonies.

Registered nurse Kristen Schafer accompanied Cockriell to the ceremony and said she has gained an appreciation for the sacrifices made by soldiers through her work with a doctors who served in Afghanistan. "We were inseparable when I was a kid, and this is my way of honouring him and everyone who fought with him".

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

"The battle of Vimy Ridge was a pivotal moment for our military and for our country".

On April 9, 1917, the four Canadian army divisions fought as a unified force for the first time, accomplishing what was thought impossible by the British and French forces - they captured the heavily fortified Vimy Ridge, 175 km north of Paris, France. Vimy Ridge was key to the German defence, and was previously attacked by the French and the British, which had failed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge 100 years ago today helped shape Canada into a nation committed to peace.

"There's a sense of accomplishment of what we did". "Many Canadians paid a bad price for this historic victory at Vimy, and I am humbled and honoured to be part of a company that has contributed so much to protecting the people and values we all hold so dear". And even those who fought there said it wasn't the most important.

The battle - and the weeks of preparations leading up to it - were marked by firsts. We came down as Canadians'. It is truly an honour to be here to recognize the more than 650,000 fearless Canadians who served in the First World War and commemorate our proud history. That was Ypres, Belgium, until the British built their national memorial there.

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