Editorial: Cenotaph, service makeover a valuable exercise

Makeover of Oak Bay's cenotaph and Remembrance Day ceremony will make them even more meaningful

As we approach November, people of all ages will soon sport poppies on their lapels, a symbol whose roots reach back to the First World War that recalls the sacrifices made on the battlefield.

While veterans of that great conflict have since passed, we continue to honour their memories – their sacrifices – and those of all who have come after, with this same symbol.

Oak Bay’s symbol of sacrifice, the cenotaph, was built in 1948 and dedicated to those who gave their life in the Second World War.

Updated in 2004 to honour all those lost in the First World War, Korean War and during peacekeeping missions, the municipal heritage site welcomes hundreds each Remembrance Day for the annual service.

While those who gather Nov. 11, and indeed those who visit throughout the year, likely see the cenotaph as a touchstone for all sacrifices made in times of war and peacekeeping, the efforts of those on the Oak Bay Cenotaph Task Group are valuable.

While more recent campaigns have not happened on the massive scale of those earlier conflicts, the impacts on those who served and their families is no less significant.

Appropriately, the task group brought together members from a cross-section of the community, including an Oak Bay archivist and heritage specialist, an environmental/ landscape activist, a citizenship judge and retired Canadian Forces reservist, and a serving member of the Canadian Forces Reserve who served in Afghanistan.

The effort, explains task group chair Coun. Tara Ney, aims both to be more inclusive in the ceremony and create a more accessible space for remembrance “that honours the beliefs of those who are there, without excluding others… The initiative will provide an opportunity to strengthen public recognition of the site as a special place.”

We are well-served by their efforts.