By Joel Charron
Over 100 people took in the Kings Navy Yard Park, Saturday morning to witness the unveiling of a new sculpture, celebrating 200 years of peace and the world’s longest undefended border between Canada and the United States.
Dignitaries and government officials from both US and Canada were on hand as the “Forged Peace” sculpture was unveiled for the first time.
Local artist Joe DeAngelis created the sculpture.
“Forged Peace” has been a legacy project between Amherstburg, Put-in-Bay, Ohio and Monroe, Michigan, along with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) and the Amherstburg Rotary Club being partners as well.
Tony Rinna, an international program officer with Colleagues International admitted he is “absolutely in love with Canada.” He said as a young boy, he would visit family in Grosse Point and stare across the river to Amherstburg, which inspired him to pursue a career in international relations.
After a violent war, Rinna said the hostilities transformed into “the greatest partnership the world has ever seen” and noted the two countries have enjoyed that partnership and peace for two hundred years.
“Thank you for being our neighbours, thank you for being our allies and thank you for being our friend,” stated Rinna.
Mayor Wayne Hurst described that sculpture as “just amazing” and praised the work of the 1812 Alive committee, Anne Rota and the ACOC for their “endless” contributions.
Hurst said the War of 1812 helped shape Canada into the nation it is today and stated the sculpture unveiling is a proud moment in Amherstburg’s history.
“Today will go down in history as one of the event that will define us as what we truly are,” he said.
Essex County warden Tom Bain said he looks upon the US “as brothers.”
“We’ve grown together to work as one,” he said. “Hopefully there are many, many more years of Canada and the U.S. working together for peace.”
Essex MP Jeff Watson looked upon the sculpture that depicts four muskets with roses coming out of the muzzles with a feather that hangs down in the centre and called it “breathtaking in its simplicity but captures so much in its essence.”
Watson said the “Forged Peace” sculpture is a symbol of the long lasting partnership, which “continues to grow to this very day.”
“We are people linked, not only in a shared history but in shared values, freedom, democracy and the respect for the rule of law,” Watson said.
Essex MPP Taras Natyshak said it was “touching” to be a part of the unveiling Saturday.
“What a magnificent, wonderful piece of art,” proclaimed Natyshak. “Lets hope all the guns that are pointed at people in anger, grow roses from the muzzles as we should continue to maintain peace and co-existence between our two nations.”
Mayor of Monroe, Robert Clark spoke of family bonds between the two countries, pointing out an Amherstburg/Monroe connection. Monroe councilor, Brian Beneteau is a cousin to Amherstburg treasurer Paul Beneteau.
“This sculpture of Forged Peace speaks the loudest and the strongest,” said Clark. ‘This bronze artwork will serve as a reminder of the past and is the most significant message about your future that can be made by community.”
Blanca Alvarez Stransky, superintendent with Perry’s Victory and the International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay, brought greetings from both herself as well as the mayor of the Ohio municipality, Ruth Scarpelli.
Scarpelli’s message encouraged people to remember the sacrifices made during the war, while Stransky’s message spoke of her gratitude of living near a safe and secure border. She described the unrest that occurs while guarding the US/Mexican border.
“We don’t fear our neighbors,” she said, of the Canada-U.S. border. “We look out of our
windows and see no fences, no bunkers or barbed wire. Nothing but beautiful, blue water. This is a very special day for the National Park Service but for me personally as well.”
Rotary Club president Lena Lazanja said when Rota approached the Rotary about becoming a part of the project said, “how could we say no.”
ACOC president Scott Deslippe said the chamber was proud and honoured to be part of the Forged Peace project.