Memorial nearly finished
TRENTON – It promises to be an emotional tribute to the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in Afghanistan.
When the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial is officially unveiled Nov. 10, it’s expected more than 1,000 people will fill Bain Park and watch as the granite monument bearing the names of 158 Canadian soldiers is revealed to the public.
Bain Park is located on the north shore of the Bay of Quinte. The memorial is close to where repatriation ceremonies take place at the beginning of the fallen soldiers’ journey along the Highway of Heroes, from Trenton to Toronto.
About 175 family members of soldiers killed in Afghanistan will be at the unveiling.
Buckhorn resident Kathy Bulger said nothing could keep her from being at the ceremony. Her son, Cpl. Nicholas Bulger, a member of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was killed July 3, 2009 when an improvised explosive device detonated.
Kathy Bulger was at the official sod turning held in June. She described the location as a beautiful setting.
“It’s very touching to think that Canadians are donating to this wonderful memorial and that the money raised was done without the help of governments,” said Bulger. “To me it’s a heartfelt thanks from the public that recognizes the sacrifices made. The memorial is in a wonderful setting, a place where people can spend a few moments of solitude to remember that sacrifice.”
A long list of dignitaries will be at the unveiling including His Excellency Barna Karimi, Afghan Ambassador to Canada, Minister of Veteran Affairs Steven Blaney; and senior members of the Armed Forces including Major-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, Commander of 1Canadian Air Division, Rear-Admiral Andrew Smith, Chief of Military Personnel and Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, Commander, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
Hockey icon and star of Hockey Night in Canada’s Coaches Corner Don Cherry will also be there.
Quinte West Mayor John Williams said the response to the hundreds of invitations sent out has been overwhelming.
“Some people are still calling us to confirm their attendance,” said Williams. “But the unveiling is also a public event and we extend the invitation to them as well.”
Finishing touches, including installation of lamp posts and flag poles are wrapping up at the site.
The memorial itself is almost completed. The last pieces, the maple leaves and likeness of a soldier carved from granite, will be installed next week.
Three large pieces of granite have traveled more than 11,000 kilometres on their way from India.
“It is beautiful work,” said Gary Foster, vice-president of the Campbell Monument Co., who viewed the pieces of granite on their arrival in Canada.
“The granite is very nice, really high quality.”
The granite is about one foot thick, and the leaves measure eight feet tall and eight feet wide.
The next step for the granite is the inscription of the names of the soldiers killed in the Afghanistan conflict.
Foster said the inscription of the names is taking place at another site in Dundas, Ont., as it requires an extra-large sandblaster which Campbell Monument does not have.
The pieces will be lowered onto the Bain Park memorial site Friday, but will remain covered until the official unveiling Nov. 10.
“We are all very anxious to see what everything will look like when it comes together,” said Foster.
About $800,000 of the $1.2 million fund raising objective has been raised.
By Emily Mountney and Ernst Kuglin