The Red Deer Cenotaph has stood in the city’s downtown for a century.
On Sunday, Red Deer’s Royal Canadian Legion recognized the cenotaph’s 100th anniversary with a parade and ceremony.
The cenotaph was unveiled Sept. 15, 1922, by then Governor General of Canada Lord Byng of Vimy as a memorial for those who served and lost their lives in the First World War.
“To me that cenotaph is Red Deer,” said Bev Hanes, president of the Red Deer Legion.
“The Red Deer area had one of if not the highest enlistment rate during (the First World War). When you have a community with a population of 3,000 or so and you send all of your young men out to war, it’s hard.”
There were 850 from Red Deer and the surrounding area who enlisted in the war – 118 of those individuals lost their lives.
READ MORE: Red Deer Cenotaph unveiled 100 years ago
The cenotaph, sculpted by Maj. Frank Norbury, represents the Unknown Soldier as he was coming off active duty on the front line, historian and Red Deer Coun. Michael Dawe said in a column in The Advocate.
The soldier was to face west, toward home and peace – he was also to be positioned towards the C.P.R. station from which most of the soldiers had left Red Deer for the war.
In 1949, the cenotaph was rededicated to include those who served and lost their lives in the Second World War. Another plaque was added in 1988 in memory of those who served and died in the Korean Conflict.
Mayor Ken Johnston said the cenotaph serves a reminder to be grateful for those who fought to protect Canada.
“We owe so much to the courage and sacrifice of the people we honoured here this morning,” said Johnston.
“The actual statue itself is a physical reminder to us of the sacrifice that so many made here and not just the affected military personnel, but the families and the community that lost a lot of their own leaders, farmers, doctors, teachers.”
Johnston worked at the Scotiabank branch in downtown Red Deer for 16 years. He said he would walk by the cenotaph every day while heading to the office.
“Every morning when I came through here, I would pause, read a plaque, take a stroll around and remember that the life I have today is only possible as a result of those who marched towards those train stations (and went to war),” he said.