The green fields basking in brilliant sunshine Sunday belied the horror tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers faced that fateful morning exactly 100 years earlier as they charged forward to take Vimy Ridge from the Germans during the First World War.
It marked the first time Canada fought as a single unit within the four divisions of the Canadian Corps yet when the four-day battle finally was over, the Canadians had succeeded where previous British and French attempts had failed.
It came at a terrible toll: almost 3,600 dead and more than 7,000 wounded. But many also credit the battle as to when Canada—a few months shy of its 50th birthday—came of age as a nation.
The soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder, whether first- or second-generation Canadians, new immigrants, or indigenous peoples. Anglophones and Francophones. And they hailed from all walks of life: the rich and the poor; from doctors and lawyers to miners and farmers.
None of that mattered. They were Canadians fighting together to preserve the freedoms and values our nation was founded upon.
All Canadians must never forget the sacrifices and success of the Battle of Vimy Ridge—but not just as a battle that helped tilt the outcome of WWI in the Allies' favour.
Perhaps more important is the enduring legacy the soldiers who fought and died that day left behind for us to follow a century later.
It's a poignant symbol of the greatness of Canada, and what can be achieved when we all work together towards a common goal, regardless of our ethnic, religious, or social backgrounds.
Canada is a gift we've been entrusted with to pass on to future generations. That's our duty to fulfil.