Monument honouring airborne soldiers to be erected at Griesbach park

EDMONTON – After eight years of planning and fundraising, a monument devoted to all fallen Canadian Airborne paratroopers is one step closer to becoming a reality in north Edmonton.

On Saturday, the Federal Government announced it is giving the Edmonton Airborne Social Club $25,000 to help fund the monument.

“The monument’s going to be called the Canadian Airborne Memorial Cairn. The focus is to honour the memory of anybody that was a paratrooper, specifically Canadian,” said Bill Dicksen, a Veteran who splits his time between the Canadian Legion and the Airborne Social Club.

The monument will be erected at Perron- Berger Park – named after two Canadian Airborne Regiment soldiers who were killed in Cyprus in 1974 – in the former Griesbach Barracks, where the Airborne Regiment was raised and many soldiers served.

“We have a responsibility to honour the brave men and women who fought so selflessly on behalf of our country,” the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, said in a media statement. “Restoring war memorials and supporting commemorative projects can inspire a renewed sense of remembrance in a community.”

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Dicksen, who served in the Canadian Forces for 37 years, is extremely happy to see the funding has come through.

“We did a lot of funding on our own initially, but we were always concerned, ‘are we going to make enough in terms of the estimate of the project?'”

He says not only is the memorial an important piece of Griesbach and Edmonton’s history, it’s also a representation of the bond between airborne soldiers.

“It’s viewed as an elite aspect of the Canadian Forces, or any force in the world, it always was. Paratroopers always thought they were pretty good guys, the cream of the crop, so to speak,” Dicksen said. “To wear a maroon beret was a matter of pride for an individual soldier and I think it still is today.”

Dicksen hopes the monument will be unveiled in August 2014.

With files from Cheryl Oates, Global News.

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