News Story

Remembrance Day — Vimy Ridge 100 Years Later

The Poppy — red; typically worn on the left breast, near the heart; the symbol of remembrance. Every year, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather with millions of other Canadians at commemoration sites, workplaces, schools and homes to honour those who have fallen in the service of their country.

Together, we observe a moment of silence to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who have died as well as those who still serve. Leading up to this commemoration, we wear the red poppy from the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day, November 11.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge of the First World War. Four Canadian divisions were victorious in taking the best-defended German bastion on the Western Front, a 7 kilometre–long escarpment in northern France that had already cost the French over 100,000 lives in unsuccessful previous attempts.

The battle was a defining moment in Canadian history, creating a sense of unity, identity and nationalism. Pierre Berton states in his book Vimy: “The First World War saw Canada transform from a dominion of Britain into a sovereign nation, a ‘coming of age,’ as many would portray it.”

Four years after the war ended, France gave Canada the land at Vimy Ridge to erect a memorial, which was unveiled in 1936. The white marble and haunting sculptures of the Vimy Memorial stand as a reminder of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France who have no known grave.

One young Church member from Ontario who visited the memorial with her father this year commented that it was such a moving experience to stand at the site. She pointed out the obvious scars of the war that are still visible and noted that the area felt like sacred ground.

The Articles of Faith summarize core Latter-day Saint beliefs. The 12th article states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Furthermore, “if Latter-day Saints are called upon to go into battle, they look to the example of Captain Moroni, the great military leader in the Book of Mormon. Although he was a mighty warrior, he ‘did not delight in bloodshed’ (Alma 48:11). He was ‘firm in the faith of Christ,’ and his only reason for fighting was to ‘defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion’ (Alma 48:13).

“If Latter-day Saints go to war, they are encouraged to go in a spirit of truth and righteousness, with a desire to do good. They go with love in their hearts for all God’s children, including those on the opposing side. Then, if they are required to shed another’s blood, their action will not be counted as a sin” (“War,”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th president of the Church, said: “There are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression. When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace. … This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy” (“War and Peace,” Apr. 2003 general conference).

Contributed by Merrilee Fraser

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