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Woodstock Reveals Battle Cross Memorial

A memorial honouring both veterans and the fallen of the Afghanistan War has been unveiled at the Woodstock Cenotaph.

WOODSTOCK - It was a day to remember and a reminder to never forget as the Afghanistan Memorial in Woodstock was unveiled.

The memorial and battle cross was revealed to a gathering of over 300 people including veterans, currently severing members of the armed forces, and three silver cross mothers. A special rose presentation was made to the mothers who lost their children as a result of war including Judy Klages, whose son Craig Blake was the only Canadian sailor to be killed in Afghanistan, and of course Bev Todd, mother to Private Tyler Todd.

Jeremy MacKnot is one of the Co-founders for not only this event, but several other events including the Evening of Honour. MacKnot helped to bring the Battle Cross memorial to Woodstock and he says, "It's very symbolic. Like this is the troops - this is their last thing. This is the last thing they get to see so, this is their last goodbye. So it's very symbolic. There's only a handful of Afghanistan monuments and I'm pretty sure we're the only Battle Cross."

Stephen Smith is also a Co-founder of the Evening of Honour and he says while it's important to remember the dead, it's also important to honour the living who continue to live with the ripples of war. "We need to recognize the sacrifice of the living as well, and that was part of this monument was to get that out there that yes we honour the dead, those that sacrificed their lives, but the men and women who sacrifice their time away from family, and perhaps even parts of their mental health, an even their own personal bodies in the protection of keeping people safe from those that would do them harm."

One man flew all the way from Edmonton the night before to pay tribute to a fallen friend. Matthew Blenko - an Afghanistan war veteran himself - came to say a final goodbye to Private Tyler Todd, who he served with. Blenko says, "Thank you so much for doing this and keeping the memory alive. And thank you for being there for us. You know, this is - it's absolutely incredible. I hope to see this many more times in my lifetime."

Blenko adds that it's great to see Woodstock honouring Canadian Forces in this way, but he'd like to see more done across the country.

Jeremy MacKnott said he'd also like to see more memorials of this type. "Just keep putting these up in smaller communities, honouring our fallen and those that served. Hoping that it kind of catches on - hoping that the bigger cities like Toronto, and the big cities that have the budget will step up and honour these soldiers that have put their lives out for, for our freedom. I think it's the least we can do for them."

The Founders of the Evening of Honour also noted there will be another event this year to help put up more Battle Cross memorials. 

Following the ceremony the main hall of the Legion was rededicated the Private Tyler Todd Memorial Hall. A painting of all of Canada's fallen of the Afghanistan War can also be seen on display at the Legion.

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