“IT’S the golden hour.” As the country fell silent at 11am to remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country, a group of families who lost loved ones in combat took part in a poignant ceremony.
The long-awaited Memorial Wall in Mowbray Park was officially unveiled as part of a dedication ceremony today.
Money was raised for the wall by the Brothers in Arms charity made up of relatives who have lost loved ones during conflict or training.
One of the founder members Janice Murray, whose son Michael Tench, 18, was killed in Iraq in January 2007, said: “This is the golden hour.
“It’s made even more special by the fact that it’s 11am on the 11th day of the 1th month of the year 2011.
“I’ve always said from the beginning that this moment will pull on my heart strings and it’s going to be a heart-wrenching day, but it’s a massive thing that we’ve achieved.”
Two years ago, the families came together with the aim of recognising the ultimate sacrifice made by Wearside servicemen and women killed in conflict or training since the Second World War.
They set about fund-raising and thanks to kind-hearted donors, have raised almost £150,000 to date, meaning their dream has finally become a reality.
Carla Cuthbertson, whose son Nathan, 19, was killed in Afghanistan in June 2008, said: “It’s amazing what has been achieved and not just for ourselves, but for all the young soldiers and their families that have been killed since the Second World War.
“It’s not just about Nathan and the other boys, it’s about everybody and it’s for the people of Sunderland.
“I hope Nathan is looking down on us and is as proud of what we’ve done as we are of him.”
Nathan’s dad, Tom, 41, added: “It’s been two long years of hard work and was all this group had to channel our energy and focus.
“It’s a fantastic way to recognise our lads who have sacrificed their lives and we are so thankful to everyone who has helped.
“I feel so proud when I stand down there.”
The monument, next to the War Memorial in Burdon Road, has the names of lost servicemen and women inscribed on the granite plinths in ever-lasting tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made.
Brothers in Arms would like to thank everyone who has donated money or helped to create the wall.
Tom said: “We cannot thank everyone enough. The support and backing we have had has been absolutely incredible.”
The wall will also play a part in the city’s Remembrance Sunday parade when relatives of some of the 18 servicemen whose names are inscribed on the wall will place wreaths.
Members of the public can attend the service at the Burdon Road War Memorial on Sunday at 10.15 am.