Throughout the year, a true champion in the Home of Champions holds his ground in the centre of downtown Trail to honour 175 local men killed in conflicts from the First World War to Vietnam.
The effigy of the unknown First World War soldier was unveiled in 2009 during Trail’s Nov. 11 Cenotaph ceremonies, and with the world commemorating the 100th anniversary of an incident that triggered the outbreak of the First World War, the statue took on special meaning again last week.
On June 28, 1914 while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Sarajevo, Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot and killed by a lone Bosnian-Serb assassin.
The murders set off a chain of events throughout the month of July, 1914, when the Austro-Serbian situation escalated to include European world powers and the “War to End All Wars,” today referred to by historians as World War 1.
Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs and the Trail Legion’s past president took a moment to reflect on the statue’s symbolism in the Silver City and the role the unknown Canadian soldier played in the “Great War.”
“This really was a turning point for our country,” said Rob Reilly, six-year president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11. “Everybody in the community was involved in some way, and when you look at the size of Trail and the number of men who volunteered for service, it was phenomenal,” he continued. “When the men left, the women went to work at Cominco, and everyone became part of it.
“So much of Canada’s history started with the First World War,” said Reilly.
The statue represents the thousands of Canadians who fought and quietly returned to the country or died overseas without accolade.
“Not everyone came back or died with a bunch of medals and recognition,” he explained. “They were a bunch of nobodies and that’s where the term unknown soldier comes from. Because it was these people who took the brunt of war.”
The Cenotaph statue is an opportunity for our residents to show their respect and gratitude and to educate the community, noted the mayor.
“In particular the young people of our area, about war and its importance,” said Bogs. “When you look at the number of residents who were enlisted in the First World War and Second World War from this area, it touches everyone.”
The Trail Cenotaph was built in 1951, and given some TLC in 2008, when grass was removed and the area was revamped with cement tile, lighting and benches, and refurbished monuments.
“Whether you are veteran or a family member or friend of a veteran, you have felt the effects of war,” Bogs added. “The Cenotaph represents these veterans and those who lost their lives so we can enjoy the freedom we have today.”