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Legion official: Its time for cenotaph upgrade

by Mike Robinson

ERIN -  It is time to better honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Erin Legion Branch 442 Service Officer Doug Kirkwood was at Erin council on July 12 asking council members to upgrade portions of the Erin Cenotaph - to both correct mistakes and omissions from the past, and provide space to recognize the sacrifices made by soldiers present and future.

“With the recent interest and recognition of the service made by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and other areas of the world it is only fitting that past and present sacrifices be so honoured,” said Kirkwood.

He added, “This is of particular importance not only to family members and the citizens of Erin and district but to the youth of our community, our future leaders.”

Kirkwood noted the cenotaph, located at the intersection of Main and Union Street, has served as a reminder of the sacrifice of the men and women of Erin and district since 1956 is owned by the town.

He noted it wasn’t even the Canadian flag, but the Union Jack which flew at that time.

He commented that in the package provided to council, he outlined the reasons behind the recommended changes to the cenotaph.

Kirkwood showed councillors a framed image representing those from the area who gave their lives.

“Sixteen of them are not on the cenotaph - 10 from World War I, and of the names there a couple of them are not correct,” he said.

“From World War II, there are five more names that should be there, which are not - even though they were listed in the official celebrations held in 1946 at Stanley Park when the soldiers returned.”

Plus, Kirkwood said, there is a soldier from Afghanistan who should be included.

In his report to council, Kirkwood also noted that some of the wording on the monument could better reflect the sacrifices made.

For example, Kirkwood suggested the wording “In Memory of Our Boys Killed in the Great War 1914-1918” should be changed to “In Memory of Our Boys Who Died in the Great War 1914-1918.”

Kirwood explained, “Not all were killed in action, but succumbed to wounds, diseases, sickness and accidents.”

He added that Veterans Affairs Canada used the word died rather than killed - no matter the cause of death. He also pointed out a number of names and spellings need to be corrected as well.

Kirkwood explained the changes are based on the soldier’s attestation paper and signature.

Plus, there are soldier names which were inexplicably missing since the cenotaph was installed.

Similar types of wording, spelling changes and name additions were also recommended for the plaque for those who died in World War II.

Kirkwood added the Korean War plaque is currently in two parts.

He recommended name additions and space be provided to permit future names to be added.

Kirkwood agreed the proposal could run into a fair bit of money because bronze plaques have become quite expensive.

He provided a ballpark figure of about $5,000.

Another suggestion was to use granite at a cheaper price, which could then be engraved at any time.

His suggestion was that approach might be used for listing the names of peacekeeping and future names, but that for the bronze plaques, there might be a way of screwing on the additional names - rather than recasting the plaque.

Kirkwood suggested these improvements are needed to honour the memory “of these people who served our country so well.”

The town may be eligible for assistance as a partner under the Veterans Affairs Canada “Cenotaph/Monument Restoration Program.”

“As one of the Honour Guards, resting on arms-reversed, at the dedication of the Cenotaph on Nov. 11, 1956 it is of particular importance to me. As the Service Officer of Branch 442 representing all veterans, I feel obligated to bring this matter to the attention of council.”

He said members of the Legion were prepared to work with council on the matter.

When it was noted the town might be eligible for assistance, councillor Deb Callaghan wondered if that meant the Legion was not.

Kirkwood explained the reason is that the town, not the Legion, owns the cenotaph, therefor the town would apply for the grant.

He said Veterans Affairs Canada may grant up to 50% of the cost.

Kirkwood agreed that while time was short, he had hoped to have the changes made for the 55th anniversary of the Cenotaph - on Nov. 11 of this year.

Councillor Josie Wintersinger said she’d like to see council work with the Legion on this project.

Councillor Barb Tocher, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Lou Maeiron, said “There is no doubt this should be corrected.

“I love the way it looks now, and I would love to see it stay looking that way.”

She suggested changing the wording or portions of the script will require more than adding something onto the bronze plaque.

Tocher said in the resolution before council, it is suggesting that staff investigate costing information so that it can be reviewed in the 2012 budget considerations.

“It wouldn’t be ready for this November, but perhaps we can have it ready for November 2012.”

Tocher explained “We’d like to do it properly, as opposed to having it look like it was patched. I don’t think any of us would be happy with that.”

Council agreed to have staff look into the costing of the proposal and investigate potential funding opportunities so that it can be considered in the municipality’s 2012 budget.


July 22, 2011


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