By Don Radford
A Wall of Remembrance for those who chose a way of peace over conflict during World War II was dedicated in Winkler Sunday afternoon.
The ceremony at the Bethel Heritage Park in downtown Winkler drew several hundred people for the dedication of the wall constructed of 3,201 bricks, each representing a Manitoba conscientious objector (CO) who chose alternate service over enlistment in the Canadian armed forces.
It was noted, however, that the list of Manitoba COs obtained from the provincial government, as well as the list of more than 10,000 nation-wide, was incomplete. The compilation of all names is continuing.
Conrad Stoesz of the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society outlined the story of Mennonite/Anabaptist people who moved throughout several nations in Europe, each time hoping to find a home where they would be allowed to be exempt from the call to arms during times of war. In Canada, they found this freedom but were required to otherwise serve. They served as conscientious objectors in national parks, farms, mines, lumber camps and remote schools.
Stoesz said that, in developing the wall, organizers agreed that for every dollar spent on "bricks and mortar," another dollar would be spent on teaching materials.
Bernie Loeppky of the Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship noted that part of the reason for the ceremony and dedication of the Wall of Remembrance was to encourage and pass on Christ's call for a lifestyle of peacemaking to future generations. The wall, he said, is both a focus on Christ's teachings and a remembrance of those who followed that teaching, particularly during times of conflict.
The ceremony included a Prayer of Healing by Jerry Hildebrand and a Prayer of Dedication by Edwin Plett who thanked the COs for their witness.