Memorial for Canada's Afghan mission dead unveiled
Peter Dawe shows Defence Minister Peter MacKay his son Capt. Matthew Dawe's name on the Camp Mirage Monument during the opening ceremony at CFB Trenton on July 6, 2011. (Lars Hagberg / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, July 6, 2011 8:42PM EDT
CFB TRENTON, Ont. - A memorial honouring Canadians who died during the Afghan mission has a new home.
The Camp Mirage Memorial Cairn was officially unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony at the National Air Force Museum of Canada on CFB Trenton.
The monument was originally located at Camp Mirage, a key base in Dubai used to support the Afghan war.
"It's fitting that the Camp Mirage Monument is finally here in Trenton on the same route that all of these personnel take when going home," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who attended the ceremony.
Canadian soldiers who have died during the Afghan combat mission, which is ending this month, are repatriated at CFB Trenton.
The three-part pyramid-like granite structure includes brass plates with the names of Canadians who have died since the mission began in 2002. A bronze casting of the bas-relief Fallen, created by Canadian artist Silvia Pecota, adorns the monument.
"Given the size of the sacrifice, we witness one small but significant and incredibly powerful symbol returning home to Canada," said MacKay.
There was standing room only at the ceremony, as military personnel, dignitaries, and families of the fallen soldiers crowded into the room where the memorial is on display.
Col. Peter Dawe lost his son Capt. Matthew Dawe, 27, to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan almost four years ago.
"Any time you talk about fallen and Afghanistan in the same sentence, it's painful," said Dawe.
The monument is arranged in a manner that recreates its placement at Camp Mirage, where it stood from 2006 until the camp closed in the fall of 2010. Given that the memorial is indoors now, artificial grass has replaced the real grass that used to surround it in Dubai.
MacKay officially passed the care of the monument to base commander Col. Dave Cochrane.
"It's a powerful symbol that honours Canada's fallen sons and daughters that are often referred to as Canada's greatest citizens," said MacKay.