BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Thanks to the long-standing efforts of local volunteer Arnie MacAskill, the Lacombe Legion recently received a new monument which rests on the north side of the facility.
MacAskill has worked for nearly six years to achieve his goal of bringing a monument to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 79, Lacombe.
Approximately one month ago, this dream was fully realized with the delivery of a C1 105mm Howitzer gun that was transported from Gatestown, New Brunswick.
“Five and a half years ago, I thought it would look good to have a monument on the front lawn of the Legion to remember our fallen and the people who are currently serving overseas or in the forces right now,” said MacAskill.
“I started looking into it and couldn’t find anything that could fit into the budget of the Legion, so I went to Blaine Calkins, our MP, who got me started through a process with the National Defence.”
After some time spent filling out applications and process papers, MacAskill received an email in 2011 from the Department of National Defence stating their interest in supporting the request for a monument. He was told to prepare a cement pad for the gun to rest on.
MacAskill got to work on the pad, with help from community sponsors and volunteers who constructed the cross-shaped cement pad for the gun to rest on.
The cement pad is detailed with designs to represent the three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces – circles for the Air Force, straight lines for the Army and waves for the Navy.
As well, it is embossed with 13 maple leafs to represent the 10 provinces and three territories that make up our nation.
In March 2012, MacAskill was thrown through a loop with the initiation of a Controlled Goods Directorate Registration protocol within the Department of National Defence. This meant more applications, phone calls and preparation to be able to keep the gun at the Lacombe Legion facility.
“Canada now has designated officers who have to navigate a security plan and all types of things in order to receive equipment such as this gun. We also have a LAV – 3 coming to the City – a light-armoured vehicle, which has had to go through the same process,” MacAskill explained.
Upon completing the rest of the application requirements, MacAskill continued to wait, but the monument did not arrive for another four years.
“When all things were said and done, it will have taken us about five and a half years to receive the monument, and it will be six by the time we get signs made for it,” he said.
“I’ve like to do some signage for it, with a plaque for the history of the gun, and a second plaque as a thank-you to all of the people that donated their time helping me with the preparation of the cement pad. I’d also like to include a poem or prayer of some kind for our veterans and members of the Armed Forces.”
MacAskill said that once all of the signs and commemoration pieces are in place, he’d like to hold what is known as a drum-head ceremony to recognize the achievement of receiving the monument and to bless the installation.