Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and an Edmonton teacher and a student travelled to France this weekend to take in the ceremonies.
Graham Fleming and his student Josh attend the Vimy Ridge Academy here in the city.
Fleming said it was important for them, given their namesake.
“With our school being called Vimy Ridge Academy, we thought with the 100 year anniversary coming up we had to do something to recognize it,” Fleming said. “Early conversations of that sort of turned to ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could connect a student and a teacher live during that assembly from the actual Vimy memorial.”
Their tour was broadcast to schools across Canada.
Fleming said actually being in France makes the history really come alive, instead of just reading about it.
“Going to the monuments, there’s just this certain aura to it,” Fleming said. “Suddenly the names that you’re reading and the little pieces of information that you’re reading really sink in, as opposed to seeing a little index on page 250 of a textbook.”
Fleming added that it was especially important given the age of many of the fallen soldiers.
“For Josh to get to read the names of the graves that were actually marked, and seeing that they’re 17,18,19,20 years old. They’re basically his age. And what those young men were having to contribute to what they believed was the right thing to do, their own honour, the honour of their country, and doing what they thought they had an obligation to do, it sure makes it a pretty special experience.”
Fleming says seeing the graves really makes you appreciate what you have, and how much harder it was for teenagers back then.
Prime Minister Trudeau and an estimated 25,000 other Canadians are expected to take in the ceremonies on Sunday. (km/pw)