Letter: Cenotaph meaning

A cenotaph is a memorial dedicated to Canada’s war dead and is considered sacred grounds.

Cenotaph meaning

This year Red Deer’s Remembrance Day Ceremonies will be held at the CrossRoads Church and at Veteran’s Park on Ross St. Located at Veteran’s Park, is Red Deer’s Cenotaph. People have asked me “What is a cenotaph?”

A cenotaph is a memorial dedicated to Canada’s war dead and veterans across Canada. There are more than 6,000 local cenotaphs/ monuments/memorial walls in Canada. The vast majority of these memorials have been erected in dedicated municipal parks as a result of efforts by local Legion branches, community groups, provinces, private sponsors, regimental associations and other veterans’ organizations. The areas in which they are located within communities are considered sacred grounds and should receive the respect and dignity they so rightly deserve.

During Remembrance Day, it is the location where the Remembrance Day Ceremony takes place. Wreaths are laid at its base in memory of fallen veterans.

Red Deer’s cenotaph is the figure of a soldier commemorating the men and women from central Alberta who served in the First World War. The sculpture is an accurate representation of the dress kit of a Canadian soldier during the First World War. The soldier’s face emanates both weariness and a resolution of purpose, while his body twists westwards in a symbolic motion away from the ravages of European battlefields and towards home and peace.

The statue faces the location of the Canadian Pacific Railway station where most of the soldiers departed for the battlefield. The Cenotaph was intentionally placed here on one of Red Deer’s busiest streets to be a constant reminder of the sacrifices of the war veterans. This memorial formally unveiled September 15, 1922 by Lord Byng of Vimy, Governor General of Canada. A copper tube containing two scrolls was placed inside the Cenotaph, one inscribed with the names of those who served during the war and the other with the names of those who had lost their lives in the conflict. The Cenotaph was rededicated in 1949 to include those who served during the Second World War. Another plaque was added in 1988 in memory of those who served and died during the Korean conflict.

Michael Barclay, sergeant-at-arms, Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 Innisfail

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