Peace Tower bells honour Newfoundlands fallen soldiers on Canada Day
National Defence Minister Peter MacKay said that while Canadians from coast to coast to coast join with family and friends to celebrate Canada Day, in Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is also Memorial Day.
"It is a day to remember the men and women who fought valiantly in wars and conflicts past, such as the Battle of the Somme," MacKay said.
"As part of that battle, 801 Newfoundlanders fought at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916. Two-hundred and fifty-five warriors died, 286 were wounded and 91 went missing. The dead included 14 sets of brothers, including four members of the Ayre family from St. John's - a pain no family should have to bear. Of those who fought on July 1, only 68 answered roll call on July 2.
"The incredible courage and sacrifice exhibited by the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, now called the 1st Royal Newfoundland Regiment, is a tribute to the discipline, valour and honour of those fighting."
MacKay said the regiment's contribution to the allied war effort has not been forgotten.
"I was recently in France and toured the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, a memorial dedicated to those who died in the Battle of the Somme. It is a fitting tribute to those who perished."
MacKay noted that, thanks to the efforts of former Newfoundland MP Loyola Hearn, Memorial Day is also recognized on Parliament Hill. This year, for the first time ever, the Peace Tower bells rang out The Ode to Newfoundland in memory of the fallen.
"The legacy of those who came before us is carried on today by those who fight with honour and discipline in far away lands, such as Afghanistan," Mackay said. "This July 1, I join with you in honouring our country and remembering the men and women in uniform who fought and continue to fight on behalf of Canada and Canadians."