[By Robert Frank from The Suburban]
It might be a Canadian first. Local veterans have already raised $105,000 out of the $170,000 that they need to construct a monument in memory of the men and women who have laid down their lives in the service of their fellow citizens.
Beaconsfield resident Richard Gratton, who served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, announced the Heroes Park initiative during the Sept. 23 city council meeting.
He lauded the support that the project has received from the mayor and city councilors and staff.
The cenotaph will be built at Shore Park, across the road from Beaconsfield’s beachfront Centennial Park.
Gratton said that the layout will be aesthetically pleasing, comprising pathways which will be named to honour various groups, including women who have been killed in the line of duty.
Besides preserving the memory of modern-day veterans – including peacekeepers, more of whom have perished over the years than in Afghanistan — Gratton added that the cenotaph include first responders as well: police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
“The joint monument might be the first of its kind in Canada,” he enthused.
Gratton and his group have engaged students in Beaconsfield High School (BHS) in the project, in order to educate young people and perpetuate the memories that Heroes Park intends to preserve.
An official ceremony to launch the project together with BHS, the city and Veterans Affairs Canada is slated for Oct. 11.
Gratton said that the project is slated for completion in Fall 2014, in time to mark the centennial of the outbreak of World War I.