Vimy ceremony to honour dead
The National War Memorial will be the scene of a unique and emotional nighttime vigil starting at sunset on Easter Sunday.

Posted on 2007/03/29

The National War Memorial will be the scene of a unique and emotional nighttime vigil starting at sunset on Easter Sunday.

As tens of thousands of Canadians journey to France on the Easter weekend to witness the Queen re-dedicate the restored Vimy Memorial, the federal government is hoping thousands more will gather in downtown Ottawa for a ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the Canadian victory in France.

At 7:30 p.m. on April 8, the lights in the area surrounding the National War Memorial will be turned off, and an overnight vigil will be held in honour of the Canadians who fought in the four-day battle that began on Easter Monday, 1917.

The names of the 3,598 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge will be "etched in light," projected on to the walls of the memorial until sunrise the next morning.

The photographs of at least 80 Vimy veterans who survived the battle, but are now deceased, will also be projected on the memorial's walls.

The public vigil was the idea of Toronto actor R.H. Thomson, who had nine relatives serve in the First World War -- although none at Vimy Ridge -- and who has spent months collecting the names, photographs and diaries of Vimy veterans.

Mr. Thomson had wanted to project the names of all 97,000 Canadians who served at Vimy Ridge on to the giant white memorial in France, as part of the ceremonies there.

The Department of Veterans Affairs suggested the Ottawa location instead, and so Mr. Thomson and the department have spent the past several weeks fine-tuning the logistics of their project and running dress-rehearsals in Ottawa. more


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