More than 80 Drumhellions have returned from the trip of a lifetime.

The group of students and parents left for Europe on April 7 to visit the Vimy Ridge Memorial.

Starting in Amsterdam, the group visited the Anne Frank house, and did a quick tour of the city.

Travelling then to Vimy Ridge, they visited a few small towns along the way.

"We stopped at something called the Kaukenhof, which is the largest tulip park in the world," trip organizer Lynn Hemming explained, telling 99.5 Drum FM they saw fields of more than 7 million tulips, all of which were in full bloom.

The other two stops of that day were the old medieval town of Bruges, then stopping at Tyne Cot cemetary, which is the largest Allied gravesite in Europe.

The group joined thousands of others the next day at Vimy Ridge to honour the 100th anniversary of the battle, Hemming added that it took five hours for their group alone to make it through security.

"I would compare it to a sporting event like the Grey Cup versus watching it on television, you might get better views, but you wouldn't get the atmosphere," Hemming added.

"I knew some of it from Ms. (Dawn) Sullivan, she talked about it a lot when I was in her social class," fifteen year old Samantha Kendell said, adding she had a new appreciation for battle after seeing the monument in person.

Hemming added there was some incredible experiences with the locals around the area as well.

Once they got to Normandy, they visited the Benny-Ser-Mur cemetery. Every Drumhellion on the trip, students and parents alike, were assigned a fallen soldier to research before they left, and each brought something small to leave on the grave of the soldier.

"My guys name was Charles Edward Higgens, I think he was 20 when he died, he was pretty young. I left a Canadian flag and a postcard," Kendell added.

Liam McDougald was assigned the grave of Conrad Radocy, a man who lived in Drumheller before he went to war. McDougald left photos from his wedding that had been sent by Radocy's granddaughter.

"We had a picnic on Juno beach, which was of course the beach that the Canadians took. For me as a teacher, I have an image in my mind of some of our grade 12 boys, 17, 18 years old, standing out, looking at the ocean and you just knew what they were picturing. Those boats coming in and what it would have been like to be a guy, running waist deep in the water towards German artillery," Hemming said.

The group wrapped up their trip in Paris, which Kendell mentioned was her highlight of the trip.


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