J. R. Robson students returned from their Easter Holiday visit to Europe, which culminated in a stop to participate in the Memorial Ceremony at Vimy Ridge.
Dubbed the “National Student Tour”, the J. R. Robson student trip was organized through the Vimy Foundation and EF Tours, who assisted the 15 students, 8 parents and J. R. Robson instructor Lorne Maier in making the trip. The group met up with 3,500 fellow Canadian students to represent Canada at a significant 95th Anniversary honouring the 1917 battle of Vimy Ridge.
According to Lorne Maier, who attended the trip with the J. R. Robson students, the group returned home quite exhausted after nine days of touring; Amsterdam, Belgium, Normandy, Paris, Vimy Ridge and several World War I Commonwealth cemeteries.
Of the Anniversary ceremony Maier described it as a long, cold, wet and amazing experience. “Witnessing that many people all sharing the same experience was moving. The students began the long day at Vimy with a 2.5 km procession with all the other 4000 participants through the small town of Givenchy at the bottom of the ridge up to the monument and the nearby cemetery where some of the Canadian soldiers who died at the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 are buried. We then all moved to the Vimy monument for the long official ceremonies which included the Canadian Gov-General. It should be noted that all of our students stood for the entire day in cold wet conditions, and never complained once,” stated Maier. Who felt the students left the ceremony with an appreciation however small of the conditions (weather wise) that the Canadian soldiers would have experienced on April 9th, 1917.
Visiting several of the Commonwealth cemeteries, the students also visited and located the graves of Canadian soldiers that each student had researched prior to the trip. They also attended the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres, a site where the locals hold a remembrance ceremony every day at 8:00 p.m. since 1918, to honour the soldiers who were never found and presumed dead. “There were so many amazing experiences and stories, too many for one short email. However it was definitely a trip of a lifetime!” concluded Maier.