To the father of a fallen soldier from London, a LAV III monument approved unanimously by council is not a symbol of war.
“To me, it’s a symbol of peace,” Carl Wilson told AM980.
“It’s not glorifying war to me, it’s glorifying the memory of these people who lost their lives and it means a lot. It means a lot to us.”
His son, 39-year-old Trooper Mark Wilson, died during his third rotation in Afghanistan in 2006 when his vehicle was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Eleven years later, Mark’s father and brother, Sean Wilson, are glad to see London specifically recognizing the efforts and sacrifices soldiers made during Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, from 2001 to 2014.
“The vets that came home, it’s important that we recognize their efforts. Not only for the fallen, such as my brother, but for the vets that are still serving our country,” Sean said.
According to Statistics Canada, around half of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Regular Force members in 2013 met the criteria for depression, PTSD, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or alcohol abuse/dependence.
The monument will carry meaning for the veterans that continue to struggle and heal, said Sean. It’ll also raise awareness.
During Tuesday night’s council meeting, politicians signed off on an agreement to buy a demilitarized replica of a LAV III as a public art monument for $17,500, with Canada Company. The non-profit agency is a charitable group that supports the Canadian Forces, and is the driving force behind a program that’ll place up to 250 replica LAV IIIs throughout Canada.
London’s monument will be installed outside of the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum at Wolseley Barracks along Oxford Street.
Further East on Oxford Street is General Dynamic Land Systems (GLDS), which builds the LAV IIIs used by the Canadian Army.
In order to turn the vehicle into a monument, welding students from Fanshawe College have welded the turrets and hulls.
And while to some, it’s a war machine, to Carl Wilson, it’s a symbol “of people from our country who went to help other people.”