BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Members of the Lacombe community are currently working together to achieve a goal of an Afghanistan conflict memorial project.
The committee, appropriately called the Lacombe Afghanistan Memorial Project Committee, has been working with various community partners and outlets to get the project going.
Currently, they are continuing to fundraise and are preparing to bring a light armoured vehicle, known as a LAV3, from Ontario to Lacombe to be laid in the Field of Honours portion of the Lacombe Cemetery.
“There are a number of things happening right now. As far as getting the vehicle, we’re talking about a decommissioned LAV3, located in southern Ontario. We’re in the process of doing the paperwork and so forth to get it here. I think we’re getting close in that respect,” said committee member Corvin Uhrlach.
“As well, we’re doing fundraising through various outlets, including the Lacombe Legion, and there has been a lot of support in the community as far as donating time and labour to prepare the space for the memorial.”
Recently, the group even received a donation from the Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) Interact students, the youth Rotary group, for approximately $1,100 towards the project in support.
“We’ve been working with the Interact Club, which is our junior Rotary club, and they recently presented the committee with a cheque for over $1,100 thanks to fundraising they’ve done, which was very nice for us,” Uhrlach said.
“Very soon we’re also going to be selling promotional stickers to help raise funds for the the project. We will have those for sale in the community and businesses will be selling those as well. We’re hoping to raise about $15,000 through that sticker campaign.”
The entire project, according to Uhrlach, is looking to cost somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000.
This includes the costs of transporting the LAV3, laying concrete and managing the landscaping work necessary in the Lacombe Cemetery.
As well, the group envisions the memorial with some benches and plaques to create a space for the community to gather.
“We want to make it a space where people can go, sit and reflect. It would also be nice to be able to bring classes down to that area for lessons, or to have community gatherings,” Uhrlach said.
“There’s a lot to the project more than just bringing the vehicle here.”
Uhrlach recently retired from his position as a teacher at LCHS, where he taught social studies for many years. He said the students involved in the Interact program were very receptive to his pitch in fundraising for the Lacombe Afghanistan Memorial Project.
“If students could be an example of contributing in citizenship for this project, I think it sets a great example for other groups in the community to work towards this project,” he said.
In order to help get that decommissioned armoured vehicle to Lacombe, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins has stepped on board to show support and help navigate the politics and paperwork of bringing such a project to the City.
Calkins also showed support in bringing a decommissioned gun to rest at the north entrance of the Lacombe Legion branch as a memorial to the Canadian Armed Forces.
Uhrlach said he knows members of the Lacombe community have felt the weight of the Afghanistan conflict, specifically through the loss of local Byron Greff who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.
“I think to people in the community, and certainly our committee, there is a feeling of great sacrifice by Canadians in Afghanistan and that makes it important to have a memorial for those sacrifices,” Uhrlach said.
He added the committee hopes to see the completion of this project sometime this year.