What a day! We left the site last night slightly stunned by what we had experienced. Never have I been so moved.
The day was perfect warm but not too hot. Sunny but not too harsh. The grass and the site were dry. The logistics of getting thousands to the site were a marvel with lines and lines of buses shuttling us in from Vimy to the site. I have never seen so many buses or policemen for that matter.
The site before the monument filled in the early afternoon with thousands of people. Many young in bandannas. The mood was electric. My sister said this must be what it was like at Woodstock - we knew that we would always be separate from all those that were not here. We were the fortunate few that would experience this directly.
After a picnic on the grass we wandered down to the main site behind the monument facing back up to the statue of a young Canada mourning her dead. It was about 2pm then. At close to 3 5,000 young Canadian came down the ridge from the south side. 5,000 people is a lot. We got a sense of the loss for the 3 days of the battle when 3,598 men lost their lives. We could imagine in looking at the 5,000, what 3,598 looked like.
Their energy was electric and I felt that these 5,000 would reverberate back into their own generation. Each would surely have 20 friends who were watching back home. I bet most will find a way to return in later life - maybe with their children.
When they had settled into the green patch in the centre the band and the soldiers arrived. The music throughout was special. A mix of pipe and brass band. I hope that there will be a recording.
The arrival of the key dignitaries took a long time - all the protocol etc. But I have to say all of them were wonderful. M Villepin opened with an exceptionally gracious speech of gratitude. Mr Harper was at his very best. His speech was without the shred of politics and was very moving. Very moving. The Queen of course was the star. Dressed in white - she shone like a pearl.
The highpoint for all of us was then the music. The lone (female) bugler. The lone virtuoso violinist. Then the most moving of all.
The band began to sing - quietly. Who had heard a band sing? The song was all about a longing for home. Then the kids in the Charlottetown choir picked up the words with the band now playing softly, then the soloist and finally all the choir and all the band. As the song reached its climax, four jets flew low over us all. We were all stunned. All around me the crowd was weeping. It was the most incredible mass experience that I have ever been part off.
What a day!