After standing tall in the heat and dust of Kandahar for five years, a cenotaph honouring the Canadians killed in Afghanistan will soon be coming home.
The decision to relocate the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Cenotaph to an undetermined location in Ottawa was announced by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, on Thursday evening.
“We have a solemn duty to remember those who served, especially those who have fallen in service to their country,” Mr. MacKay said in a statement.
The government and the National Capital Commission are in the process of identifying a site for the cenotaph, which Mr. MacKay said will ultimately be a “place for reflection and remembrance.”
Gen. Natynczyk added that the cenotaph is an important piece of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan and is one well worth bringing home.
“It has served as a powerful symbol of sacrifice,” he said in a statement.
The cenotaph, which currently stands in Kandahar Air Field, will start to be dismantled on Nov. 12 for its journey to Canada.
It was erected in 2006 and displays 189 memorial plaques, some representing multiple individuals. A new plaque is to be added to remember Canada's latest casualty, who was killed in a suicide bombing last month.
To date, 158 Canadian soldiers and two civilians have died as a result of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.
Once the cenotaph is taken down, a one-metre-high stone and a bas-relief plaque, which is currently the cenotaph's centrepiece, will be transported to the Canadian Forces base in Kabul to mark the fact that Canada's presence in Afghanistan continues.
Canada wrapped its combat role in Afghanistan earlier this year, but some 900 Canadian soldiers are currently in Kabul as part of a mission to train military personnel in the country until 2014.