LONDON, Ont. — A monument to honour the Canadian Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan has been unveiled in London, Ont., just in time for Remembrance Day.
A ceremony was held Friday outside The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum to present the monument, a decommissioned light armoured vehicle.
“Having a modern-day military monument unveiled just days before the 100th anniversary of the armistice informs Canadians that our military is still called upon today, like it was 100 years ago, to serve and sacrifice in pursuit of a more peaceful world,” Shawn Deane, director of the LAV III Monument Program, said in an email.
The program demilitarizes LAV IIIs, light armoured vehicles that were used to carry Canadian troops through Afghanistan, and turns them into memorials to be placed in 33 communities across Canada.
The project is meant to honour 40,000 Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, including 162 who died, according to the program’s website.
The latest instalment was unveiled Friday in London, where the LAV IIIs were originally built and where they are now being turned into memorials to be transported across the country.
“This LAV III monument will serve as a constant reminder of the bravery and selflessness of our service men and women,” London Mayor Matt Brown said in a statement.
“It is just one small thing we can do to acknowledge those who made the ultimate sacrifice for peacekeeping and protecting our freedoms.”
The family of Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson, who was from London and was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, was present at the ceremony, the release said.
The retired vehicles were donated by the federal government and offered as memorials as the LAV IIIs became synonymous with Canadian troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
The vehicles are made of steel, carry various weapons and can hold up to 10 passengers and reach speeds of 100 kilometres per hour, according to the LAV III Monument Program website.
A decommissioned LAV III isn’t functional as it’s stripped of its weaponry, engine, steering and communications and lighting systems.
Deane, the program’s director, said London became the 24th community in Canada to receive a monument from the program. He said nine other communities are expected to announce unveiling dates next year.
“It would be difficult to name another community who has contributed more to both supplying and honouring our military, during the Afghanistan conflict, than London, Ont.” he said.
“The operational LAV III helped to protect Canadians while the monument version helps to honour them.”
Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press