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Cataraqui Cemetery improves access to the Cross of Sacrifice

The Cross of Sacrifice at Cataraqui Cemetery. Photo by Logan Cadue.

Near the center of Cataraqui Cemetery lies the Field of Honour. The uniform rows of military monuments, with the Cross of Sacrifice at it’s centre, make this historical cemetery section stand out among the acres of headstones marking final resting places.

Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 would have seen The Day of Remembrance Committee hold their annual ceremony at the Cross of Sacrifice at Cataraqui Cemetery. Due to COVID-19, the Committee made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 flag placing event and the annual service, according to a release from Cataraqui Cemetery.

“Each year, in the days leading up to the event, numerous volunteers would come together to place nearly 1000 small Canadian flags throughout the cemetery on the graves of those known to have given military service,” says Gus Panageotopoulos, President of the Board of Trustees of Cataraqui Cemetery. “On the day of the service, school children would place another 820 flags on the graves in the military section. It is a very moving event.”

In late summer, with the knowledge that the ceremony would be cancelled, the Cataraqui Cemetery Board of Trustees took the opportunity to fund and commence a significant maintenance project in this section, according to the release. The project is highlighted by the replacement of the 230m (754ft) long walkway leading to the Cross of Sacrifice. The cemetery’s effort to better the walkway will improve accessibility to this monument. 

According to Cataraqui Cemetery, the Cross of Sacrifice at the Field of Honour is one of only 24 located in Canada. Designed by one of the principal architects of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Sir Reginald Blomfield, the crosses are finely crafted of granite with a symbolic sword of bronze affixed. The monuments in the military section follow the pattern established by the CWGC. Cataraqui Cemetery says there are many monuments depicting military service throughout the cemetery.

  

The new walkway is now open.  Panageotopoulos stated that “with the absence of this year’s traditional ceremony, the Cemetery and I welcome members of the community to visit the Field of Honour on their own and to walk the cemetery grounds to take in a more personal moment of silence, giving thanks for those that have served in times of conflict and in peace.”

The Field of Honour is an active military section of Cataraqui Cemetery, which predates Confederation, and is unique among Canadian, and worldwide, cemeteries. Originally established by the British War Department, this section of the cemetery dates to 1861, and is the final resting place for armed services veterans who have served Canada, the Commonwealth and Allied Nations, according to the release from Cataraqui Cemetery.

Burials include veterans of the Crimean War, North-West Rebellion, Boer War World War I, World War II, Korean War, Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions and peacetime operations. The Field of Honour is believed to be the oldest, still active, formal cemetery military section in Canada, and Cataraqui Cemetery says they feel privileged and honoured to care for this piece of our history.

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