Bev Sievwright and her family attended the memorial service at Vimy Ridge on Apriil 9 and now have a lifetime’s worth of memories.
“My mother was in the English Army and my Dad in the Canadian Army,” Sievwright says. “Mum came over to Canada as a war bride in 1946. Mum passed away Oct. 31 at the age of 95. My brother, sister and I held a memorial service for her on April 1.
“My sister had booked the five of us on an Educational tour that was called History in their Footsteps and we left for London England on April 3. We were with a total of 20 adults, on a different bus from all the kids that came from Canada.”
Over the next 11 days they were in England, France, Normandy, Belgium and Germany, with three nights in Amsterdam before they flew back to Toronto. They saw museums, beaches where Canadians fought, and the beautifully-kept cemeteries of those that fell. A special highlight was touring Flanders Fields, where the poem was written. They also toured the house where Anne Frank hid during the war.
“We were treated with kindness and respect wherever we went,” Sievwright said.
April 9 began early. They left the hotel at 9 a.m. and arrived at Vimy Ridge just after 10 a.m. Security was tight, but no real problems encountered, she said.
“The day was very warm, so our group picked a spot and waited for the ceremony to begin. The students arrived at the same time, we were told that the number of people attending was between 25,000 to 30,000. The ceremony was moving and showed just how much Canada gave to the world so we can appreciate the freedom we have today.
“I was impressed by the students on how much knowledge they had of our history and how respectful most of them were. At the end, Harry, William and Justin Trudeau walked right by us and I was able to get some good pictures of the three.”
Once the dignitaries left, there didn’t seem to be any movement. Security again was tight and the students (and some of adults) decided it was time to get back to the bus. But then the gates were removed and people began running up to the Vimy monument and up the hill.
“Awesome sight, all the red jackets on the monument. I am not sure if CBC got that part captured,” Sievwright said. “So many memories of our trip, glad we were able to share it with friends and family.”