The Royal Canadian Legion in Ocean Park is preparing a monument for soldiers of the NATO forces as a memorial for those who have fallen and to support those who are still fighting.
The Crescent Branch, No. 240, is set to unveil the NATO Memorial Cenotaph - which weighs 720 pounds and is made from a mixture of stones from a quarry in Nelson Island - on Sept. 15. It will stand next to the branch's other two memorials: one for veterans of the First and Second World Wars and one for those who served in Canadian peacekeeping missions.
"As a group, we decided we should recognize our NATO forces," said Henri Wendel, an executive member of the branch. "This might be the first one (Legion) in Canada to take that step to recognize the NATO forces in the form of a monument."
Members of the branch have stepped up to put it together, from the bricklaying to the design to the finished product. The monument is currently being carved by Stonemarks Engraving on King George Boulevard.
"They have a giant piece of rock that they're now whittling away at and they're going to polish it up," he said.
Wendel recently took a trip to France, which became part of the monument's inspiration after seeing thousands of memorials for fallen soldiers.
"I toured Vimy Ridge and I became a very, very proud Canadian when I was there," he said. "With the photographs, you see what the soldiers had to go through, not knowing whether they were going to make it back home."
Wendel said he visited war cemeteries, one of which had 23,000 graves.
"It really hit me," he said. "We've got to recognize the efforts that all these soldiers are making for us, especially in Afghanistan."
Since 2002, 158 members of the Canadian Forces have been killed in Afghanistan, the largest number of fatalities for a single Canadian military mission since the Korean War.
"We have to remind everybody about what the role of Canada is and how terrible wars are," he said. "These guys are dying for us, and we've got to do something."