The dedication ceremony for Clearwater’s new cenotaph took place at Reg Small Park last weekend where the new monument was officially unveiled to the public.
The event began with a singing of the National Anthem, a reciting of the hymn O God out Help and a reading of the prayer Joshua 4:1-7 by Acting Chaplain Harry James.
Legion president Calvin Lutz then introduced special guests John Harwood, Merlin Blackwell, mayor, former councillor Ken Kjenstad, Leslie Groulx, Chief Administrative Officer, councillor Barry Banford, Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Area A Carol Schaffer and former councillor Gord Heisterman before delivering president’s message.
“The old cenotaph, built by Loyd Bishop, Richard Willan and Ric Kitziner in the late 1990s had served us well and we are forever grateful for their dedication and labour,” said Lutz.
“It had, however, suffered from the ravages of time and weather and since the District of Clearwater was building a new well house, this necessitated the removal of the old cenotaph, which was decommissioned on April 23, 2018.”
Inspiration for the new cenotaph’s design came during a trip Lutz and his wife, Eleanor, took to a B.C. Yukon Command convention in Abbotsford.
He said he was so impressed with the stately appearance of the monument he contacted the city fathers who gave him the drawings and specs of the “Thunder Bird” cenotaph, which is the same design as the new cenotaph at Reg Small Park.
The cross at the top of the monument is identical to the Christian symbol used by the Knights Templar during the crusades, which was displayed on their shields, breastplates and flags.
Lutz then told what he called The Story of the Travelling Cenotaph.
“The location of the new cenotaph was to be in Reg Small Park, then because of the new well house, we considered the ball field behind the district office; this was rejected because we—by we I mean the cenotaph committee, the mayor, council and Leslie Groulx—felt it was out of site,” said Lutz.
“Then we considered placing it on the boulevard across from the Old Safety Mart, this was finally determined to be unsuitable, then we considered the lot now owned by the District of Clearwater across from the old Baptist Church, this was rejected also and after much soul searching, we decided that Reg Small Park was okay after all, so here we are today.”
After some laughs from those in attendance Lutz went on to explain the funding challenges that came while trying to bring the Thunder Bird to its home in Clearwater.
The Cenotaph Committee applied for a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs and were approved for $25,000, and the group also received a grant from Wells Gray Community Forests for $30,000.
The Legion also raised $16,595 with help from the community, and though the monument is in place, there’s still more work to be done in spring 2019.
A large semi circle of stamped concrete and paving stones are going to be placed around the cenotaph, as well as placing three flag poles and three marble benches that’ll be put on the paving stones.
“We will continue our fundraising efforts in order to complete the project,” Lutz added.
“A special thank you to Mayor John Harwood, Leslie Groulx, the council and Roger Mayer for their outstanding support. Thanks to Rob Poncelet of Stewart Monumental who manufactured the cenotaph and worked with us.”
After thanking the Cenotaph Committee members Harry James, vice president, and Randy Hedlund, Lutz introduced Harwood, who delivered the Memorial Address.
“Peace and freedom come at a price and this celebration today of a new cenotaph in Clearwater, we hope will be a lasting example of peace and freedom to people who drive by; this will be a monument that speaks to all persons,” Harwood said.
“Some of us won’t always be here to give the message to our young people about what it costs and what it takes to have freedom in our country and peace in our time, but people gave their lives to that and this stands as a monument.”
Harwood told about growing up in England and listening to his uncle talk about the First World War and the hardships faced by soldiers living in the muddy trenches, then about the Second World War where he saw a town devastated by bombs first hand.
“You understand that there is an incredible cause,” he said.
“These are memories we want to pass on.”
The cenotaph will be a lasting memorial in Clearwater, and for the whole North Thompson Valley, as people drive by and give reverence and honour in the name of peace and freedom for all our veterans who suffered and died, he added.
“We also think of their families that also go through so much hardship and trial and we think not only of those that died, we think of those who come back from warfare, that are mentally destroyed and have a lot to deal with in our society today,” said Harwood.
“So our thoughts and prayers are with them; Today is not a celebration, but it is a mark of hope for the future that we would live in peace.”