April 9, 1917 marked the Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge, which had cost tens of thousands of Allied soldiers in the preceding months and yielded no victory. We have approached the 100th anniversary of that battle, one that cost 3,598 Canadian lives in the span of a few hours and an additional 7,004 were wounded.
In those few hours, the Brigadier General A. E. Ross remarked he had just witnessed the birth of a nation, for the Canadians fought and died under their own officers and their own assault plan. They did in a few hours what the two largest armies involved for many months could not do.
Former MLA Bill Belsey rose in the B.C. Legislature on April 2002 and made reference to the men of our city who filled the ranks of the 102nd Battalion.
“Upon arrival in Comox, their numbers were so numerous that they formed a company themselves called Company B.” From that day forward they were known as the North British Columbians.
The North British Columbians had three objectives on the morning of the Vimy assault and accomplished them all. Today, an individual memorial stands on Vimy Ridge in honour of these officers and men of the 102nd Battalion who fell during the assault and capture of Vimy Ridge on April 9-12 1917.
We owe our freedom to men such as these. We are taught in school ‘Lest we forget’ and ‘in morning we will remember them’.
It seems that the mayor and his fellow councillors did just that, in the rush for photo opportunities, ridiculous plans called 2.0 or wanting high rises and sea plane watch towers, our past was simply forgotten.
One group of high school students left on April 2 to attend the Vimy celebrations and the Sea Cadet Corps have accepted an invitation to be part of the celebrations and will be sending two officers and 11 cadets to attend this most sacred of Canadian sacrifices.
I know that former mayor, Jack Mussallem, would never have made such a mistake. He had good sense to know in order to go forward we must always look back.
There are enough veterans living in our community perhaps an honour guard at the cenotaph or something similar could be present those first few important hours of April 9 this year.
Sadly, some sort of service or plan should have been put into action but it was not.
I could say I am disappointed but that would be polite. Should Mayor Brain decide to lay a wreath on behalf of our city next Remembrance Day I do hope he understands why he is there, takes time to read the names of the fallen on the cenotaph, becomes humble and asks for no photos.