WESTVILLE – For over 90 years in downtown Westville, a sombre yet steady soldier has stood next to a cross, perhaps the grave of his fallen comrade.
And while his bronze composition has turned green with time, his task, to serve as a gathering point to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice, remains clear.
Vincent Joyce of the Pictou County Military Museum is hoping to pay homage to the soldier, the names of the fallen and the surrounding grounds with a much-needed restoration.
“The cenotaph is in grave need of some major repairs,” said Joyce.
With the support of the Town of Westville, Royal Canadian Legion Branch #35 and the military museum, he wants to see the cenotaph fully accessible, legible and restored.
“The statue and granite base need cleaning. The names of our military personnel who made the supreme sacrifice for our country families and friends cannot be read and even the letters have fallen off,” said Joyce.
The cenotaph was the town’s response to the loss of life of local Westville natives in the First World War, though names were also added after the Second World War and Korean War. A total of 84 names are noted on the memorial.
The handful of these fallen soldiers’ still-living comrades, some in their 90s, are finding it increasingly difficult to ascend stairs to approach the cenotaph.
“There is no accessibility walkway for our handicapped, sickly and elderly military personnel and citizens to view the cenotaph,” said Joyce. “Erosion has taken ground work away throughout the years and the front-centre walkway steps are in bad condition as well.”
While the town, legion and military museum are working hard to raise funds, they’re also hoping members of the public will step up to the plate and support this project financially.
“Every cent raised will go toward this project,” said Joyce. “Not one cent of it goes to the legion, the town or the museum.”
Mayor Roger MacKay noted that the cenotaph has been the focal point for Westville’s Remembrance Day ceremonies since its creation.
“And with this initiative, it will remain that way,” said MacKay. “This is a part of our town’s history.”
Royal Canadian Legion Branch #35 President George Lees, a veteran with 22 years of service, including a stint with the UN in Cypress, said the project is about respect.
“For the fallen comrades or those still living, this will honour and pay tribute to their service,” said Lees. “The project will be a reminder to all of the great price that has been paid for freedom.”
Donations small and large will be accepted at the Westville Town Office, Pictou County Military Heritage Museum or can be sent to the museum via mail: 2020 Queen St., Unit 2, RR2 Westville, NS, B0K 2A0. Cash or cheque only and receipts will be issued.
For more information, contact Vincent Joyce at 396-2194.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn