OTTAWA, April 22, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence, made the following joint statement today on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Ypres:
"The Second Battle of Ypres marks a pivotal moment in Canadian military history. The bravery and sacrifice shown at Ypres forged the reputation of courageous and capable Canadian soldiers that continues to the present day.
"Ypres was a battle of 'firsts' for Canadians: it marked the Canadian Expeditionary Force's first significant engagement of the First World War. Canadians also faced the horror of the first chlorine gas attacks, but they also turned adversity into triumph at Kitcheners' Wood which marked Canada's first victory on European soil.
"More than 2,000 Canadians gave their lives and 4,000 were wounded during the first four days of a battle that came to symbolize the shocking loss of life—the terrible cost—of the Great War on a young nation.
"Treating the wounded and dying at Ypres inspired Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae to pen the poem In Flanders Fields which, to this day, urges us to remember this sacrifice and hold the torch of remembrance high.
"Today, and every day, we honour those brave Canadians who fought—and died—during the Second Battle of Ypres. We hold high that torch of remembrance for all who have sacrificed in the struggle for enduring peace and freedom throughout the world."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468