We Need to Commemorate the Centenary of Vimy Ridge at 5:30am on April 9, 2017

Tonight, TVO’s The Agenda aired a discussion with photographer Racheal McCaig who is creating the photo exhibit “Je Me Souviens: Vimy 100” to mark the centenary of the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge.

 Canadian machine gunners dig themselves in, in shell holes on Vimy Ridge. This shows squads of machine gunners operating from shell-craters in support of the infantry on the plateau above the ridge. (Government of Canada Photo)Canadian machine gunners dig themselves in, in shell holes on Vimy Ridge. This shows squads of machine gunners operating from shell-craters in support of the infantry on the plateau above the ridge. (Government of Canada Photo)

> Today’s commemorations will begin with a two-minute silence at 7.28am to mark the moment the first wave of soldiers went over the top. Whistles will be blown to mark the end of the two-minute silence after the 7.30am chimes of Big Ben.

Thus begins The Guardian’s live coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in Great Britain on July 1, 2016.

Across the British nation, cities, towns, and villages came to a full stop for two minutes. After those two minutes of reverent silence, battle whistles were blown and church bells rang.

I had no idea it was the anniversary of this battle, but I quickly found out as I watched my Twitter feed fill with photos of ceremonies across the ocean.

The Battle of the Somme is Britain’s Vimy in that it is just as deeply imprinted in the national’s collective memory as Vimy is imprinted in ours. The difference is the Somme is scarred into their collective memory, whereas Vimy is seen as a triumphant moment which forged the beginning of Canadians being a distinct nationality.

The 1st day of the Somme remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.

On the 1st day of the #Somme, British Army suffered 57,470 casualties, incldng 19,240 killed – heaviest casualty toll in a 24 hour period.

— Imperial War Museums (@IWM) July 1, 2016

Hamiltonians can relate, on a much smaller scale, with our experience at Dieppe during the Second World War. Every Hamiltonian knew someone or the family of someone killed at Dieppe. The tragedy of the Somme was the same on a national scale.

Marking the Centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Watching the commemoration of the Somme on Twitter was a moving experience.

We should do the same in Canada to mark the Centenary.

The City of Hamilton should hold services at our Cenotaphs with two minutes of silence at 5:30am on the Sunday morning of April 7, 2017. It was at exactly 5:30am on that dark Easter Monday morning of April 9, 2017 the artillery fired, beginning the fateful battle.

Churches should be encouraged to ring their bells at the end of the two minutes of silence.

The centenary provides us an opportunity to commemorate the service of all during the First World War, and that it falls on a Sunday will enable more people to participate in commemoration.

https://twitter.com/xxmollyrxx/status/749148820680900609

Proud my son was a ghost soldier in #wearehere Glasgow but sobering as he's same age as many killed at #TheSomme pic.twitter.com/KatXH537un

— paul Kelbie (@paulKelbie1) July 1, 2016

Leeds falls silent to remember sacrifice of city’s soldiers at #TheSomme https://t.co/4S1TMmofCU #Leeds #yeplive pic.twitter.com/pG260W6pJS

— YorkshireEveningPost (@LeedsNews) July 1, 2016

A remarkable site. A cross for every one of the 91000 killed #someyomp #TheSomme pic.twitter.com/R9Acxi1u7D

— Wyn Morgan (@WynMorgan8) July 1, 2016

Soldiers walking through Manchester.100 years. #TheSomme pic.twitter.com/dnNnMW4NyC

— David Harrison (@dtharrison1) July 1, 2016

19239 laid. 1 last one tomorrow, 100 years after they died at the Somme. Indescribable. Open 7am tomorrow morning pic.twitter.com/Na6ORbBYI0

— Shrouds of the Somme (@thesomme19240) June 30, 2016

Remembering the Brave #BattleoftheSomme #wewillrememberthem #Somme100 #TheSomme Pictures by @RobbieJBarratt pic.twitter.com/GQohehCobG

— TheBrooksbankSchool (@thebrooksbank) July 1, 2016

Please Share #TheSomme #LestWeForget #Somme100 #somme2016 pic.twitter.com/oLWIf3h1ho

— Elmstead Weather (@ElmsteadWeather) June 30, 2016

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