The Long Road Home for the Kandahar Cenotaph

Article / August 8, 2019 / Project number: 19-0163a2

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By Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — It has travelled across a desert, an ocean, all the way across Canada and to the United States en route to its permanent home. The Kandahar Cenotaph, built by soldiers honouring their fallen comrades, is now housed in the Afghanistan Memorial Hall in Ottawa.

There will be two full days set aside in August 2019 to commemorate the Fallen at the Afghanistan Memorial Hall.

On August 17, there will be a rededication of the Kandahar Cenotaph, which honours the 158 Canadian Fallen as well as 43 Americans who lost their lives in Afghanistan while under Canadian command.

The ceremony will be held with invited friends and family members only in attendance at the Afghanistan Memorial Hall at National Defence Headquarters (Carling), located at 60 Moodie Drive in Ottawa’s west end.

As the ceremony begins, so will the live stream on various Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces social media platforms to ensure all Canadians have a chance to take part.

On August 18, Veterans and the public are invited to visit the Hall from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. without having to book in advance. Parking will be free.

Here are some facts about the creation and history of the Kandahar Cenotaph and the Afghanistan Memorial Hall where the Cenotaph now resides.

Did you know?

  • The Kandahar Cenotaph was designed by Combat Engineer Captain Sean McDowell and set up in Afghanistan by soldiers to honour the Fallen. The centrepiece of the Cenotaph is a large boulder transported from the site of the deaths of Sergeant Robert Short and Corporal Robbie Beerenfenger.
  • Many families of the Fallen visited the Kandahar Cenotaph in Afghanistan as part of Remembrance Day ceremonies that were held there each year from 2003 to 2011. 
  • The Kandahar Cenotaph was painstakingly dismantled over two weeks for shipment back to Canada in 2011. Canadian Armed Forces Engineers took photographs and made detailed drawings to ensure its proper reconstruction.
  • The Kandahar Cenotaph travelled and was put on public view in major Canadian cities and Washington, D.C. in May 2014.
  • The Afghanistan Memorial Hall at National Defence Headquarters (Carling) in Ottawa was purpose-built as a permanent home to protect and preserve the Kandahar Cenotaph. It was opened on May 13, 2019.
  • The 189 memorial plaques and their wooden display cases that are part of the Kandahar Cenotaph were not designed to withstand long-term exposure to the elements. That is why they must be housed in the enclosed, climate-controlled area of the Afghanistan Memorial Hall.
  • Guided visits of the Kandahar Cenotaph for Veterans and members of the public will last 90 minutes during the week and on weekends. You can book your visit in advance. Please refer to Related Links and click on “Afghanistan Memorial Hall”.
  •  A national Afghanistan memorial will be unveiled by the fall of 2023. The approved location for the public memorial is in Ottawa across the street from the Canadian War Museum. Planning for the project, including a national design competition, is now in its early stages.

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