By Kevin Woodhouse
When the spades hit the dirt confirming the ground breaking ceremony for the city of Beaconsfield’s Heroes Park, it not only signaled the beginning of the cenotaph’s lasting legacy for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice but the achievement of a promise made by resident Maj. Richard Gratton.
“Before my deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, I promised that when I returned I would create a cenotaph to honour those who run towards danger,” Gratton told the assembled at last Friday’s ground breaking ceremony.
The Heroes Park will honour not only military men and women but also firefighters, police officers, paramedics and all first responders gave their lives for their country.
Representatives from public security, firefighters and police officers including Station 1 Commander Richard Thouin, major sponsors, and architect and resident Kristopher Parent were on hand to hear about and witness Gratton’s dream come to life.
“This is a testament to the community for honouring those in public service,” said Gratton. “During my time in Afghanistan, I attended four ramp ceremonies and a cenotaph just made more and more sense.”
The major also spoke about the local secondary school, Beaconsfield High’s involvement in the care of the park. A path from Beaconsfield Boulevard will lead to the cenotaph located just across from Centennial Hall.
“In Europe, it is a tradition for school children to maintain a cenotaph in a city,” said Gratton who was proud to see the tradition take shape in Beaconsfield.
The students will also be adding their personal touch by including a time capsule to be opened in 100 years’ time.
Mayor Georges Bourelle told the assembled that he hopes Heroes Park will be a memorial that “helps to sensitize our young and not so young the sacrifices made by our many heroes.”
Lac St. Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia said that “this was an extraordinary idea whose time has come.”
Scarpaleggia pointed out the pastoral grounds of Centennial Hall where residents can gather freely and enjoy nature is a perfect juxtaposition of the new Heroes Park “as we can all enjoy or freedom in this wonderful country largely due to our military and first responders.”
Parent said that when he was approached two years ago with the idea of designing Heroes Park, the resident who was raised in Beaconsfield saw it as a great way to being the community together with associations with various community groups as area sponsors such as Desjardins and Fednav.
The cenotaph is black granite from Quebec, all 30,000 lbs of it, complete with maple leaf on the top. There will also be little monuments as well as historical facts along the pathway to the main monument. Benches and bricks that have been donated by community groups and residents.
The official opening of Heroes Park will take place on Oct. 15, with special guest David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.
To learn more about Heroes Park or how to donate and have your own personalized brick as part of the monument consult the website at www.heroespark.org.
(Left to right) Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle, Lac St. Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia, Dennis Pfeffer of Fednav, Maj. Richard Gratton, Normand Prévost of Desjardins and architect Kristopher Parent took part in the city of Beaconsfield’s Heroes Park groundbreaking last week. The park’s official opening will be Oct. 15, 2014.
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