Vimy Ridge. It was the scene of one of the greatest battles in history. Certainly, in Canadian history. So great, and so well respected, when rumours were floating during the Second World War that the Germans had destroyed the Vimy Memorial in France, Der Fuhrer moved immediately to quash it.Hitler would send photos to Churchill, assuring him the memorial was not touched.It would remain untouched, revered and respected to this day, until recently when some brainless vandals had the audacity to spray paint it.The land itself on which the twin soaring pillars of Canada’s Vimy Monument sits, as well as the surrounding 100 hectares, is also legally part of Canada — gifted to Canada by France in 1922, in gratitude for sacrifices made by Canada in the First World War and for the victory achieved by Canadian troops in capturing Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Many don't know that.Now, according to a Postmedia report, the memorial along with the immaculately tended cemeteries where tens of thousands of Canadian and Newfoundland First World War dead are buried have been added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.The designation recognizes the Vimy Memorial as among 138 First World War funeral and memorial “sites of memory” deemed “of outstanding value to humanity” and deserving of special protection in times of war, the report said.More than 900 cultural, natural and mixed sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. These are special places, as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the baroque cathedrals of Latin America.Canada has 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Rideau Canal, Nahanni National Park, the historic district of Old Quebec and Anticosti Island.Hmmm.On top of my grudge against the Ontario school system for not teaching us how great our troops were, in both world wars, my first impression on hearing this was not favourable.The UN is not anywhere near what it was created to do and anything connected with it can be controversial. Some have even called it a den of spies. Corruption runs rampant and the US has balked at paying its share to support it.Do we really want or need the UN’s involvement in something so sacred to Canada? Must we?Tim Cook, chief historian at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, is one who supports it 100%.The designation, while largely symbolic, is an important recognition, he told Postmedia.“I find those cemeteries very powerful places, sites of memory and sites of mourning,” said Cook, author of Vimy: The Battle and the Legend, and other books about Canada in the First World War.“You feel the weight of history there. I’ve never met a Canadian who hasn’t been physically moved by the experience,” Cook said. “The cemeteries have always held a significant and a haunting place in the Canadian imagination.”I then contacted my friend, Stuart, who has been to Vimy, and even toured some of the chalk tunnels underground. Stuart’s grandfather, Roy Henley, just so happens to be the youngest Canadian soldier who fought in that battle — he was only 14. Lying about his age, Henley would serve with the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) in France.Pierre Burton refers to him in his epic book, Vimy.“One of the wounded, Roy Henley, was surely the youngest Canadian in action that day. He too had lied about his age and somehow managed to get past the recruiting officers, even though he was only 13 when he enlisted." "On the day of the battle, he was 14. By nine that morning, Henley had a bullet hole through his water bottle and two through his kilt. Two more bullets had grazed his foot, actually tearing his sock." "Yet there wasn't a scratch on him. The sixth time, he wasn’t so lucky. A piece of shrapnel struck him in the back, and for him, the battle was over. But he survived that and another wound at Passchendaele and lived to fight and survive again in the Second World War.”Nearly 4,000 died in the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, the first battle where Canadians fought together as one cohesive army. The names of 11,285 Canadians killed in France who have no known graves are inscribed in the white limestone of the Vimy Memorial.I asked Stuart what he thought of the UN designation. He did not hesitate, in his short and clear answer.“Great, it should be,” he said. “Many men from both sides, gave their lives, fighting for their cause.”Stuart said his grandfather, who lived well into his 90s, never held a grudge against the enemy.“He felt they were simply doing as he did and that was fighting for your country,” he said.Once an open field, today it is a “beautiful maple forest, as Parks Canada planted a Maple tree for every man lost on the battlefield,” he said.“They have preserved the network of tunnels and trenches, as well as the craters which separated the Canadian and German front lines”“Young Canadian military officers are posted to the site to explain the battle. Going there makes you very proud to be a Canadian, it is something every Canadian should see. The enormous pride of these soldiers risking their lives for their countries.”Alas, there is no question the Vimy Memorial is unique among battlefield cemeteries. And perhaps it should be deserving of protection "for future generations to appreciate and enjoy," as UNESCO has said.The monument was designed by Canadian architect and sculptor, the late Walter Seymour Allward. His design was selected from 160 others submitted by Canadians in the early 1920s, according to Veterans Affairs Canada.Work began on the monument in 1925 and eleven years later, on July 26, 1936 it was unveiled by King Edward VIII. It cost approximately CDN $1.5 million, including site preparation and the building of roads.Built into the side of the hill at the highest point of the Ridge, the monument rests on a bed of about 15,000 tonnes of concrete, reinforced with hundreds of tonnes of steel.The excavation had to be done with great care as the ground was littered with live bombs and shells. Many of these were unearthed as digging proceeded.The base and twin pylons contain almost 6,000 tonnes of a special type of extremely durable limestone brought to the site from Yugoslavia (present day Croatia).The 20 sculptured figures which grace the monument were actually carved where they now stand from huge blocks of this stone.The carvers used half-size plaster models produced by Walter Allward and an instrument called a pantograph to reproduce the huge figures to the proper scale. Finishing touches were then added by a master carver.But, if the Vimy Memorial deserves this recognition and the legal protections by an international convention the UN administers, do other battlefields deserve the same? Verdun? The Somme? Gettysburg? Waterloo? Where does it end?Just how much of men’s blood does one need for this recognition?