Kevin McHarg has seen plenty of heroes. Now he’s asking Canadians to remember some of our most valiant by wearing the Vimy Pin.
Vimy refers to Vimy Ridge, a hill that stretching seven kilometres across northern France and dominates the local landscape. It was there on April 9, 1917, that the entire Canadian Corps fought together for the first time, winning a decisive victory over the German Sixth Army and paving the way for the ultimate Allied victory.
The Vimy Pin was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, which is sometimes called “the day that forged a nation.”
McHarg, who has been involved in raising funds for the families and firefighters of 9/11 families and Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, hopes residents will wear the Vimy Pin until April 9, 2017 – the 100th anniversary – and every April thereafter.
Known as “April’s Poppy,” the Vimy Pin displays the two iconic towers of the Vimy Memorial, which represent Canada and France forever bound together in tragic sacrifice.
The towers are surrounded by an elongated maple leaf, which has been a symbol of Canada since the 1700s. Vertical colour bars below the clasp represent the four Canadian Divisions that seized victory that momentous day.
The Vimy Memorial sits on land ceded to the nation by France to honour Canada’s First World War sacrifice of 60,000 dead.
Tom Slater, a military historian and lead researcher on the City of Sarnia War Remembrance Project, reminds us that 100,000 Canadians fought at Vimy Ridge. Of that number, 3,598 died in what, nearly a century later, is still Canada’s bloodiest day.
A group of local historians launched the local campaign recently by presenting pins to Mayor Mike Bradley, MP Marilyn Gladu and MPP Bob Bailey.
Wearing a Vimy Pin is a meaningful way of honouring the sacrifice of Canadians at a defining moment in our history, Bradley said.
The pins cost $6 and are available at The Book Keeper in Northgate Plaza and Poppies Gift Shop at Bluewater Health.
Proceeds will support the Vimy Foundation and its local partner in the campaign, the Sarnia Historical Society, to educate high school students and the public on the role Sarnia and Canada have played in international conflicts.