Today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle at Vimy Ridge, Sault Ste. Marie’s military personnel mustered at City Hall before parading to the Queen Street Cenotaph for a remembrance ceremony. The event began with a Freedom of the City request by the 2310 Army Cadet Corps.
Dating back centuries when military units were required to stay outside city walls, Freedom of the City parades are ancient honours granted by a municipality to only trusted members of the community, or a visiting celebrity or dignitary. A Freedom of the City parade is traditionally the only time a military unit, during peacetime, will march with bayonets fixed. The 2310 Army Cadet Corps was first granted Freedom of the City in 1998 in recognition of its 100 years of service to the city.
“We wanted to exercise Freedom of the City on the anniversary of Vimy Ridge to honour the soldiers whose lives were lost,” said Major Pierre Breckenridge, visibly choked up.
“The service that people give selflessly is an amazing thing. It can’t be quantified. People who go into battle, have fought in wars, and sacrificed their lives or were wounded are brave and selfless. When we do remembrances such as this, we honour that selflessness.”
Sunday’s Vimy Ridge ceremony included the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph by MP Terry Sheehan, Ontario PC leader and Simcoe North MPP Patrick Brown representing the Province of Ontario, Mayor Christian Provenzano, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 President Wayne Paulencu, and Major Robert Lambert of the 49th Field Regiment.
Canada was at the forefront during the Battle of Vimy Ridge which took place in France during the First World War. Although successful in their mission to gain military control of the ridge, Canadian Corps had lost more than 3,500 soldiers, and 7,000 wounded at the battle’s conclusion.
“Those who fought in the war, they were my age,” said 17-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Bryce Vanderburg. “They had a duty to call and they did it. To remember them is a great thing. A lot of them did lose their lives and the ones that didn’t were impacted for the rest of their lives. I feel we need to remember that.”