Saturday, 9 April 2011

Vimy Ridge Day

April 9th of each year is Vimy Ridge Day in Canada, designed to honour the special significance of this battle. Our country's grief at the terrible cost of Vimy Ridge and World War I is encapsulated by the central figure of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, she who stands at the front of the Memorial, framed between the twin pylons -- the statue called Canada Bereft.


She stands on the high parapet, looking down at the stone sarcophagus of the war dead found at its base. Before her stretches the battlefield of 1917. She is facing east, where each new day dawns.


She is designed to evoke the Mater Dolorosa, the grieving mother of Michaelangelo's Pieta.


Canada Bereft grieves for all time, on sunny days and in the rain, day and night, in summer, winter and all the other seasons of the turning year.


My father's namesake, Charles Walker, was mortally wounded at Vimy Ridge and died about a month after the battle. He is the only connection my family has to the Great War. I have written about him before (here and here) if you want to read his story.

[Photos borrowed from various sources on the internet.]


[Remember to enter HRH's Birthday Giveaway if you haven't yet -- click here to do so!]

20 comments:

Jeanne said...

I feel her sorrow.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

I'm so happy that you have the ring.

.♥.

Magaly Guerrero said...

She looks SOOO sad ;-(

Francie said...

A wonderful and moving tribute, Debra. Thanks. Did you go to the site when you were in Europe?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Alas no, Francie, I've never been there. But I would love to see it some day.

mermaid gallery said...

she is very beautiful...Today was the day of my father's funeral, 17 years ago....sadness felt here too.....

knitwit said...

Thanks for the informative post--it's a time in history that I actually don't know much about. Any family history we have from the Great War has been lost to time, unfortunately. I will have to go some day.

Jim said...

This was very moving. Thanks Debra.

Lois said...

She is so beautiful, even in her grief. What a wonderful memorial.

DEZMOND said...

that statue is truly magnificent, suggestive, profound and beautiful. Truly stunning and it has such depth.

Shalet Jimmy said...

I am hearing it for the first time- ' Canada Bereft

Amazing.

Beatnheart said...

thanks for all of this...something I knew nothing about. The memorial is really beautiful. I would love to see it someday.

Tricky Nag said...

Beautiful monument, and beautiful posts. What a wonderful ring to have given its journey to you.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Such a solemn moment, and stunning monument for your country. When I come across monuments I like to stop and reflect on that time.

I have never heard about this monument. Thank you for this post. This is one I'll share with my husband. I'm sure he's aware of it, if it's related to history and the World Wars he's in the know.

Thank you for stopping by and for your comments on my deviled eggs.

LauraX said...

her bowed head and posture truly evoke a feeling of grief in the viewer. One cannot help but sigh and incline head toward heart with her.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

how beautiful and how sad.

Jaliya said...

Thank you, Debra. For some reason I've felt a deep draw to WWI ... and *Canada Bereft* is part of it. I can't help but wonder ... How many such monuments dot the planet for the countless ones killed in war ... and how many more will be erected in their time ...

Suzie said...

I read each tribute entry with great interest, never having heard of Vimy Ridge before. (I could never figure out why we studied Central and South American countries, but never Canada! I LOVED, and still love "the Northwoods", as I called it as a kid)

But it took me this many days, to get past the overwhelming emotions that kept sweeping over me, preventing me from forming my thoughts into words.

I went from feeling the pride that those families felt, in the intelligence and bravery of their loved ones, to conquer where everyone else had failed, to the despair when they realized the cost. You can still feel the restless undercurrents of sadness and horror, beneath those lush green mounds. Those sheep are not just keeping the grass trimmed, they are guards of the Spirits.

The monument itself is one of the most moving that I've ever seen. The starkness speaks volumes, and Canada Bereft is amazing, not only in detail, but her softness in contrast to the two pylons. And how her sorrow can emanate from stone, is beyond any artist's abilities, and yet, even through the photograph, and my monitor, I can feel her pain. I can only imagine how powerful she is, to see her in person.

Thank you SO much for sharing this journey with us. Not only has this been a learning experience for me, but an emotional one as well.

Lynette Killam said...

What an extraordinary sculpture...I can't believe I haven't seen it before! It is amazing that someone can bring such life and longing to a piece of stone...the comparison to Michaelangelo's Pieta is justified. So glad you did this series of Vimy Ridge posts...

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

I am so grateful for the things you share here, Debra. You really engage me and I really have to make more time to visit as I'm always so glad when I do.
An amazing monument and story. So evocative, with the pylons rigidly towering abover her, and her grieving figure, soft and flowing below. It gives us pause, as well it should.