Veterans group honours local, fallen soldiers by erecting crosses
The biting-cold morning seemed fitting for the somber tone of the second annual cross-laying ceremony that was held along Veterans Boulevard in memory of Airdrie’s fallen soldiers, Oct. 27.
The ceremony, which took place at 10:30 a.m., was a small and quiet event, much like the veterans who were on hand to watch the 25 white crosses placed on small posts along the centre meridian.
Each cross contains the name, age, rank and date of death of a local soldier who died in service.
Among those in attendance were Mayor Peter Brown and Alderman Allan Hunter, as well as veterans of the Second World War, Korea and Kosovo.
“I get goose bumps when I think of these people and the contributions they have made,” said Mayor Brown.
“When I think of them I can’t help but get emotional. I think it’s a great tradition to celebrate them in this way and I feel nothing but pride when I see these veterans coming out to be a part of this ceremony.”
Norm McRae, a member of the Kosovo Unit of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit and longtime Air Force member, spoke briefly to the crowd prior to the laying of the crosses.
“I am going to try to not get choked up,” admitted McRae during his early morning speech. “These crosses represent the lives of soldiers who gave the greatest sacrifice for all of us. They showed the greatest courage and bravery in the face of hardship and danger.”
His speech touched on the importance of continuing the tradition of paying tribute to the brave men and women who have served our country over the years.
The temporary memorial will remain in place until after Remembrance Day, eventually being replaced by a permanent memorial that will consist of two statues on the west and east ends of the meridian.
The proposal for the veteran’s memorial was presented to Airdrie City council by the Kosovo Unit earlier this month, with a plan to have the statues and flagpoles completed and on display by 2016.
David Noble, a veteran of the Korean War, was also on hand for the brief ceremony, braving the bitter cold to place a single poppy on the cross of his brother George who was killed during the Second World War.
An 89-year-old resident of Cedarwood Station, Noble admitted that his memories of his brother are always with him, but tend to flood his thoughts during this particular time of year.
“He’s always on my mind,” Noble said. “It’s important for me to come out here and be a part of this ceremony. I may be a veteran myself, but my brother is the real hero. He didn’t give his life because he wanted to. He gave his life to protect each and every one of us. Without his sacrifice this would be a very different world we would be living in.”
A Remembrance Day ceremony will be held in the Fieldhouse at Genesis Place at 10 a.m. on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.
The public is welcome.