Prime Minister Stephen Harper today launched the Vimy Foundation Pin Campaign which seeks to raise awareness of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of Canada’s most important military victories. The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Mr. David Houghton, President of the Vimy Foundation.
"With the passing of the last Canadian First World War Veteran in 2010, it is now more important than ever that we cherish and preserve stories of the service and sacrifice of our country’s fallen heroes," said Prime Minister Harper. “This pin reminds us of the brave and resilient servicemen who, on April 9, 1917, overcame the odds and captured Vimy Ridge.”
The Vimy Pin was introduced in February 2009 by the Vimy Foundation which works to preserve and promote the legacy of Canada’s important contribution to the Allied victory in the First World War. It symbolizes Canada’s victory at Vimy and recognizes the important role this battle played in shaping Canada’s identity.
Vimy Ridge protected an area of occupied France where several factories and mines were in full production for Germany. Its height and strategic location also made it a key part of the German defensive lines. Attacking with all four of his divisions, the Commander of the Canadian Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng, was able to successfully execute a four staged operation which resulted in the capture of Vimy Ridge. The operation was an impressive victory, both as a military success at a difficult time on the Western Front and in enhancing Canada’s role among the Allied Powers in the First World War. The battle also marked the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together.
The Prime Minister also announced today that the Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, will travel to Vimy, France, on April 9, 2012, along with the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, to attend a special commemorative ceremony in the presence of 5000 Canadian youth marking the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
A commemorative ceremony is held every year on April 9 at the Vimy Memorial, which serves as a tribute to all those who fought during the battle of Vimy Ridge, and has come to symbolize Canada’s commitment to peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
In addition to the ceremony taking place in Vimy, there will also be a vigil and ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, as well as a number of events in communities across the country.