The Dryden Observer

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In Recognition and Celebration

Right to left: House Committee Chair Mel Lowe and President of the Ladies Auxiliary Joyce Lowe receive their Years of Service Pins from President Doug Miranda, Membership Chair Debbie O’Doud and Social and Entertainment Chair Bryan Buffett (not pictured). Photo by Kaela Morin

by Kaela Morin

In the early morning of April 9, 1917, in the thick of World War I, four divisions of the Canadian Corps came together for the first time in an organized strike against Germany’s 6th Army to take back Vimy Ridge: a 145 metre high, seven kilometre tract of land in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. For three days following that Easter Monday, the relentlessness of Canada’s newly unified Army, its strategic and precise planning and its substantial British artillery pushed German troops back until the Ridge was overcome and captured in the evening of April 12.

Though the Ridge was won over 100 years ago, The Battle of Vimy Ridge marks the event that solidified Canada as a nation separate from Britain, and has become a national symbol of Canadian achievement and pride: a symbol that was honoured at the Vimy Ridge Banquet on April 11 at the Royal Canadian Legion. Legion Social and Entertainment Chair Bryan Buffett remarked on the Banquet. “It gives us the opportunity to honour the event that created Canada. [Vimy Ridge] was the most important military victory that Canada was ever involved in. It defined us militarily… and it’s something that every vet, every modern vet, looks back on with pride.”

Attending the supper was Councillor Martin MacKinnon, who thanked the Legion for giving Dryden “a wonderful moment where we can celebrate as a community the real beginnings of our country.”

The banquet’s social hours ran from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the Legion slowly filling until the volume of attendants prompted cadets to pull out and set up a few extra tables to accommodate. Supper started shortly after 6:30 p.m., following O Canada, a prayer from Champlain Doug Wightman and four toasts: the first for the Queen, the second to the veterans, the third to those who have fallen and the fourth to those still serving. In a gesture of respect, attending veterans were given the first go at the buffet table with a cadet as an escort.

Legion President Doug Miranda was happy with the turnout and explained the additional purposes of the dinner:

“We had an excellent turnout, a lot of volunteers did a lot of work to get the people out here. There’s a three-fold story here tonight because we’re celebrating Vimy Ridge, of course, and we’re always honouring our vets and that’s why we invited them to dinner… [but we’re also] recognizing our Legion members in five-year increments of service.”

After dessert, Miranda, Buffett and Membership Chair Debbie O’Doud stood at the front of the Legion and announced about 25 members’ names in acknowledgement of their service; members who attended the banquet approached the podium to shake hands and receive their Years of Service pins. The Banquet has been held annually in April for several decades.

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