Trail Cenotaph statue stands as constant remembrance

7-foot statue of First World War soldier unveiled in Trail Cenotaph in 2009

Trail Times reporter Valerie Rossi, who still went by her maiden name Schillaci at that time, covered the unveiling of the Unknown Soldier Statue at the Trail Cenotaph on Nov. 11, 2009

Here is an exerpt of her account of the unveiling.

It sounded as though all of Trail gasped when a larger-than-life statue was unveiled at the Remembrance Day ceremony.

The seven-foot statue of a First World War soldier evoked as much emotion as those remembering in the crowd.

Armed Forces personnel, Legionnaires, cadets, and others in various uniforms were among around 1,500 people attending the ceremony at the memorial square.

” … Mathews, L., Mitchell, A., Maurice, W, …,” said May Batch as she read the honour roll aloud.

An air raid siren sounded in the distance, a plane soared overhead, and the bronze face of the unknown First World War soldier staring down was joined by the crowd of people who in unison dropped their heads for the two minutes of silence.

“Though veterans are coming few in numbers, the importance (of the ceremony) stays the same,” said Major Wilf Harbin, who reflected on attending ceremonies as a boy in the ’60s.

Patrick Ward, born in Kelowna in 1922, was one of the 100 Second World War veterans gathered at the cenotaph to commemorate the sacrifices of the 175 local men killed in conflicts from the First World War to Vietnam.

So much of Canada’s history started with the first war, said Trail Legion president Rob Reilly, when asked why that particular war was commemorated with a statue.

“World War 1 was the God-awful war, the horrific war … people thought nothing like that would ever happen after that,” Reilly told the Times. “The last soldier to die in the First World War was a Canadian. He was killed just moments before it ended.”

“It’s been a year full of a lot of work,” said Reilly, crediting volunteers for their efforts.

Bruno DeRosa suggested the effigy of a soldier, when it was decided to invest money into revamping the cenotaph in 2007.

The retired Teck worker has spent time in the casting business and was previously involved with the family statue in Trail. With help from Leo Ganzini, who designed the base that the statue rests on, DeRosa’s vision has come to life.

Instead of blowing big money on new plaques, DeRosa saw the value in a statue – much like the family statue across from the Memorial Centre.

But DeRosa chose to stay out of the $52,000 project’s shadow during the ceremony and watched humbly from a distance when Buddy DeVito assisted with the unveiling.

DeVito, a former president of the Trail Legion and also a Second World War veteran, was a member of the cenotaph committee when it was built in 1951.

The sun shone downtown after the ceremony, when crowds of admirers rushed toward the statue, dropping poppies at the feet of the unknown soldier.

Half of the funding for the $52,000 project was obtained from Veteran’s Affairs with Teck, the Columbia Basin Trust, the City of Trail and Legion members making up the rest.

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