Friday, July 01, 2005

Memorial Day in Newfoundland.

In one of those great Newfoundland in Confederation ironies, Canada Day is actually an official day of mourning in Newfoundland.

You see, Canada just happens to celebrate its birthday on the anniversary of the bloodiest day in Newfoundland history.

On July 1, 1916 the Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out on the battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel France during the Battle of the Somme. The story of the Newfoundland Regiment in WWI is a dramatic one, long and filled with heroic victories. It came to an end on this day in 1916.

It was on this day that 801 fighting Newfoundlanders left the trenches and tried to smash through the German lines, only 69 returned to answer the roll call. An entire generation was wiped out in minutes. Today is the day we remember them.

I was at the War Memorial in St. John’s this morning at 11:00am and watched the wreath laying ceremony. It was a beauty day, there was a big crowd and lots of young people in attendance

It makes for a bit of a schizophrenic holiday. On the day we are supposed to be celebrating the flag, the flags are flying at half mast.

Everything is different in Newfoundland.