On a trip to Alberta’s Peace Country this summer, I insisted that we stop at Mayerthorpe, AB. My purpose: to visit the Fallen Four Memorial Park, a tribute to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who lost their lives in the 2005 murder.
For better or worse, Mayerthorpe will forever be associated with the tragedy. I’m sure townspeople and officials grew weary of the media onslaught at the time (and the inevitable attention at every anniversary since), and I believe there is a currently a concerted effort to acknowledge and honour what happened but to move forward as well. The 2012 Map and Directory makes no mention of and includes no photo of the event other than a tiny logo on the map and a one-liner listing under attractions.
I walked the grounds, read some of the brass plates, took photos, and looked at the exhibits in the information centre. Because of time constraints, we did not venture any further than the park, and I regret that.
On this hot summer day in July there was a reverential silence among all of us visiting at the time. The life-sized, beautifully rendered bronze statues are a thing to behold. The poses are different and every detail of the full-dress uniforms is accurate. I can only hope this tribute brings some comfort to the families of Constables Brock Myrol, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, and Peter Schiemann.
The statues are positioned at the four compass points around a 24-foot obelisk weighing 12,000 pounds. Both the obelisk cap and the statues were executed by Cochrane sculptor Don Begg. The Fallen Four brochure explains that it ?points skyward as the up-rush of doves represent those whose spirits now soar free: police, soldiers and other peace officers who served and died in the past and in our time.? The inscription on the brass plate says, ?Honouring ALL peace officers who have died in the line of duty. May their brave spirits soar. We give thanks for them, and all who still protect and serve.?
The brochure encapsulates the ?unspeakable tragedy? of March 3, 2005, with a bit of background, short bios of the lost men, and photos of the 2008 dedication ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney.
As I walked the grounds and dabbed at my tears I marvelled at what can result from the vision of a few and the efforts of many. The original idea grew to reality: a beautiful memorial park featuring statues, a gazebo, benches, trees and flowerbeds, and an interpretative centre. Places for prayer and reflection; but for facts and history as well.
Marianne Williamson said, ?In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is power to do it.? Amen, I say, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.