CORNER BROOK A group of people in Corner Brook will be celebrating a lot more than Canada’s birthday today.
The Remembrance Square Forget Me Not Campaign will unveil the first of three bronze statues that will commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers past and present in the city today.
A fitting day for the unveil which is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador and the 96th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
Dave Higdon, chair of the campaign committee, said the statue travelled across the island from St. John’s by pickup truck on Friday and then work will begin to put it in place for today’s unveil.
Higdon said the caribou will first be mounted to a piece of granite that resembles rock from a mountain and then placed on top of the cenotaph.
“This is unbelieveable,” said Higdon. “When you think about what’s going to happen there and what it symbolizes, that’s huge.
“It’s such a great feeling to know that you’re going to be honouring what it represents. It’s going to give people a sense of pride.”
The caribou is an iconic image for the province that was chosen in 1914 to represent the First Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The Remembrance Square statue is similar to one that is at Beaumont Hamel.
The caribou and the other two statues that will be placed in the square are the work of sculptor Morgan MacDonald.
The Corner Brook native has already completed the clay forms of the other two pieces, a First World War soldier modelled after a Lewis gunner and a modern-day soldier styled after those who have served and continue to serve in Afghanistan.
Higdon said casting of those pieces will soon begin and they will be unveiled in the square, along with a plaque to recognize the contribution of females in military service, on Nov. 10, the day before Remembrance Day.
“Because we don’t want to take away from the actual Nov. 11,” said Higdon, who noted that is a more sacred time of remembrance.
Meanwhile, Higdon said Rod McGinn of M and M Excavating will assist MacDonald in the mounting of the statue, which will be lifted up by a boom truck.
To ensure the cenotaph can handle the nearly 1,200 pound structure the committee conducted a load test on it Tuesday.
In preparation for the unveil the committee also cleaned up the machine gun that is situated on the square and installed a new flag pole to fly the Canadian flag high above the area.
Normally, the July 1 Memorial Day ceremony is held at the war memorial on Curling Street, but Higdon said this year Branch 13 of the Royal Canadian Legion agreed to move it to Remembrance Square to coincide with the unveil.
Higdon said he plans to make sure as many veterans as possible are able to attend.
The ceremony will get underway at 2 p.m.