By Kathy Johnson
Twenty-one students and two chaperones from the Barrington Municipal High School will be among the thousands of young Canadians making the pilgrimage to France to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on Easter Monday (April 9).
Travelling with a dozen students and two chaperones from Yarmouth high, the students left Saturday (April 7), carrying with them the respect and honour of the entire school and the community for the soldiers who fought for freedom and democracy in what has become known as the greatest battle of World War 1.
The students will be taking with them a banner, made from quilt patches and signed by the entire school body that bears the names of World War I veterans from Canada and Great Britain.
Each participant in the Education First (EF) Vimy Ridge 2012 National Student Remembrance Tour were assigned the names of two veterans, whom they researched and will represent during the tour, said Stella Nickerson, one of the teachers who will be accompanying the students.
The veterans’ names, along with the participants’ names are included on the banner, which was quilted together by the Good Will Club in Barrington.
“They volunteered their time and we really appreciate that,” said Nickerson.
The banner will be carried during the 95th anniversary memorial march to Vimy Ridge on April 9. Students will take an active role in the march and ceremony, with Leah Newell designated a torch bearer, while Matt Adam will be reading the names of soldiers.
It was 95 years ago on Easter Monday, 1917, that the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting side-by-side for the first time, captured Vimy Ridge. Four days later (April 12) the Canadians controlled the entire ridge. It is considered a defining moment in Canada’s history.
The victory at Vimy Ridge came with a price. There were more than 10,600 casualties, with an estimated 3,600 Canadians paying the supreme sacrifice.
For Grade 11 student Meaghan Swimm, the remembrance tour “is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go and actually see what happened on Vimy.” Swimm said she is most looking forward to the commemorative march on Vimy Ridge.
Students will visit six countries during the trip, including France, the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Besides Vimy Ridge, the students will also visit the Eiffel Tower, Berlin, the Louvre Museum, Anne Frank’s house, the Jewish History Museum, Brandenburg Gate and Auschwitz.