Daily tribute honours First World War soldiers with no known grave
YPRES, Belgium, July 9, 2015 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada today honoured fallen Canadian soldiers at a special Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.
Today, July 9, 2015, marks the 30,000th time this moving daily tribute has been conducted.
Each country whose fallen are commemorated by the Menin Gate Memorial had a special role to play in the ceremony. On behalf of Canada, Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada contributed to the pre-recorded reading of John McCrae's famous poem, In Flanders Fields. Lieutenant-General Richard Rohmer, Special Advisor to Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, laid a wreath on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Since its formation in 1928, the Ypres Last Post Committee has organized this tribute to the war dead. Every evening at sunset, traffic is halted, and buglers from the local fire brigade station themselves at the centre of the Hall of Memory to sound the Last Post.
- The spring offensives launched by the Germans in 1918 were finally halted just over two kilometres away from the Menin Gate.
- The Memorial Arch, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, was unveiled on this site in 1927. Nearby, St. George's Memorial Church opened in 1929.
- The Memorial commemorates almost 55,000 soldiers of the British Commonwealth who died in Belgium during the First World War and who have no known resting place, including 6,940 Canadians.
- Two silver trumpets used in the ceremony were a gift from an officer of the Royal Canadian Artillery who served in Ypres with the 10th Battery, St. Catharines, Ontario.
- Above the arch is carved "To the armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914 to 1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave."
"This is a truly moving tribute to the brave soldiers who died fighting during the First World War, and a remarkable gesture of dedication to their memory. On behalf of Canadians, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Ypres Last Post Committee and to the Belgian people for ensuring that the spirit of remembrance remains strong."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"Generations of men and women have sacrificed themselves to protect the freedoms that we hold dear as Canadians. Witnessing this profound gesture of respect by our counterparts in Belgium to the memory of the fallen, in particular to those with no known final resting place, is deeply touching."
Lieutenant-General Richard Rohmer OC, CMM, DFC, QC
Officer of the Belgian Order of Leopold and Senior Canadian Veteran of the Liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans of Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada. 613-992-7468