July 1st is Canada Day and one of Katherine’s favourite days of the year. Since she was a very little girl, she has always loved the celebrations, fireworks, cheesy tattoos, flags flying everywhere and cake (there are cakes at just about each venue on Canada Day here).
Tomorrow we will have a family day of fun, with bike rides, trips to Cape Spear, a barbecue, some geocaching and whatever else tickles our fancy.
Here in Newfoundland it is also Memorial Day and has been since 1917. July 1st memorial celebrations all over the province recall the losses of Dominion of Newfoundland at Beaumont-Hamel during the Battle of the Somme of the First World War. In the span of 30 minutes, an entire regiment was essentially wiped out. As Wikipedia puts it,
So far as can be ascertained, 22 officers and 758 other ranks were directly involved in the advance. Of these, all the officers and slightly under 658 other ranks became casualties. Of the 780 men who went forward only about 110 survived unscathed, of whom only 68 were available for roll call the following day. For all intents and purposes the Newfoundland Regiment had been wiped out, the unit as a whole having suffered a casualty rate of approximately 90%.
For many Newfoundlanders, it’s rather like celebrating your child’s birthday on the day that your father died; a double-edged sword. Most of the province’s (although we weren’t a province then, but a Dominion) young men of education and standing were among those officers. An entire generation of potential leaders was decimated in the time it takes to bake a cake. Sobering food for thought.