When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Arlington National Cemetery while in Washington, D.C., in March, he made a stop to place a wreath at a little known Canadian monument.
The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice was a gift from Canada to the United States to pay tribute to the large number of Americans who chose to fight with Canadian forces during the First World War. Since the U.S. did not enter the war until 1917, many anxious Americans came north to join Canada’s army and fight in Europe.
The cross was suggested by Prime Minister Mackenzie King in 1925. U.S. President Calvin Coolidge approved the request and on Nov. 11, 1927, he unveiled the monument.
The monument was designed by British architect Sir Reginald Bloomfield using the model he created for the Imperial War Graves Commission, now known as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), in its cemeteries throughout Europe and the world. The grey granite cross stands 7.3 metres high and features a bronze sword with its blade down.
It is inscribed “To the citizens of the United States who served in the Canadian Army and gave their lives in the Great War.” Following the Second World War and the Korean War, similar inscriptions were added to other faces of the monument.
Also attending the unveiling of the monument in 1927 were a guard of honour of more than 200 Canadian soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment, the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Royal Horse Artillery, the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the pipe band of the 48th Highlanders of Canada. U.S. Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis gave an address.
The cross is regularly inspected by the Canadian Agency of the CWGC. “The monument belongs to the Government of Canada, since it was given by the Canadian government to commemorate the U.S. citizens who crossed the border to fight with the Canadian Expeditionary Force,” said the agency’s Deputy Director Dominique Boulais.