Upper Island Cove Cenotaph receives a facelift

Nicholas Mercer
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Monument will be re-dedicated on June 29

The Upper Island Cove Cenotaph is looking sharp these days.

The Upper Island Cove Cenotaph has received a facelift ahead of a re-dedication ceremony set for June 29.

A new brick wall has been built both behind and in front of it, and a new concrete base has been laid.

With a reddish colour to it, it bound to catch the eye of any motorists passing in front of the area, which sits alongside the St. Peter’s Anglican Church and across the street from the elementary school of the same name.

On top of the new concrete is a combination of new and old. The original marble cenotaph, dedicated in the 1950s, stands at the forefront.

To either side, rest the new additions — a pair of granite monuments.

The fresh looking memorial is not a finished product just yet, however, it will be when its dedication ceremony rolls around in June 29.

A new flagpole will be installed in the coming days, and there needs to be some landscaping before the big day. Also, the older monument needs to be re-finished so the names currently inscribed on it are noticeable.

However, when war memorial committee members James Mercer (vice-president) and Dorothy Adams (president) take a look around, you can see the pride in their eyes.

They stalk around the grounds picking up any errant trash, removing weeds and just dusting off the monuments.

They take pride in the work their doing and it shows.

“It’s looking good,” said James Mercer, running his hand along the marble face of the original monument.

The two are continuing on work started by their father, also named James, and two other members — Will Young and Gordon Young — of the Royal Canadian Legion in Harbour Grace.

Just under a decade ago, the trio started the idea that would become the war memorial committee.

They secured money to replace the crumbling concrete wall that was on the site.

After two of the three (Mercer and Will Young) had passed, Adams and Mercer took up the mantle.

It started with accumulating the appropriate funds.

“We started getting donations,” said Adams.

By the time they were finished, the group had raised some $30,000 for the project. Then in 2011, the provincial government funded the group an additional $25,000 to help finish the work.

“Dad would be very pleased,” said Mercer.

 

Memorial Day

July 1 is an important day in this country. It’s Canada Day and a time when all across the country people are celebrating their nationality.

But back home in Newfoundland, it means something else.

Some might say it holds greater significance.

The day is also Memorial Day. It’s a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces of the Newfoundland and Labrador in times of war.

It has been observed annually since 1917 and was originally intended to recall the losses of Dominion of Newfoundland at Beaumont-Hamel during the Battle of the Somme of the First World War.

 

Volunteer helped

Aside from the monuments and the brick wall at the front of the memorial, all of the work was donated.

That includes the concrete work at the base of the monuments and the landscaping.

“The volunteers have been great,” said Adams.

In an interesting twist, the cenotaph will not only serve to honour those who have fallen in conflict, but also those who are currently serving.

Their names are inscribed on the back of each granite piece. There are Canadian Forces members, as well as current members of the RCMP.

When the marble monument was first dedicated, the names of the men and women who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars were listed, but not the Korean War or those who were with the Merchant Marines.

That has been rectified.

“That meant a lot,” said Adams.

 

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Organizations: Anglican Church, Royal Canadian Legion, Canadian Forces RCMP First and Second World Wars Merchant Marines

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Beaumont-Hamel

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