Councillor seeks to get Afghan war dates to front of Halifax cenotaph

A Halifax regional councillor says he will try to convince his colleagues to reconsider adding Afghanistan war dates to the front of the Grand Parade cenotaph facing city hall.

Coun. David Hendsbee has a motion scheduled for Tuesday to rescind a recommendation from a year ago not to add new dates, 2001-2014, to the front of the cenotaph to protect the heritage value of the memorial.

But Hendsbee said he hopes to defer that motion so a veteran who has been passionately advocating for the addition of the dates can address council himself. 

“Mr. Bob Thompson, [who] would like to make a presentation to council, is out of town this week so I hope that council will defer it for another week and perhaps to allow Mr. Thompson to make his case in front of full council,” Hendsbee said Saturday.

The dates for the war were added to the cenotaph facing St. Paul’s Anglican Church in 2015. Dates for the First World War, Second World War and Korean War face city hall.

Acknowledging Afghanistan war veterans

Thompson, a retired veteran who served in Afghanistan, has advocated for adding the dates to the front of the cenotaph for about a year and a half.

“In my mind, 40,000 troops, 158 that fell and the 13 from Nova Scotia, have earned their right to have those war dates put on the front,” said Thompson,

Thompson, who said he’s been denied an opportunity to speak to council, said the municipality set a precedent in adding dates to the front of the cenotaph when it added the Korean War dates.

“To me, November 11, troops and veterans, families of the fallen all meet at the Grand Parade … and active service troops stand there in the multitudes.

“And they have to look at that cenotaph and not see their contribution to peace and security. To me that is a travesty and dead wrong.”

Thompson said he’s working to gather photos from other cenotaphs and war memorials across Canada that include the Afghanistan war dates to be used in a possible future presentation to council.

Hendsbee said he would like to see the dates added to the front of the cenotaph. “I think it would be quite a significant memorial to that conflict,” he said.

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