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Amanda Ferguson, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Friday, July 4, 2008 12:19PM MDT
Thousands of people gathered in the small town of Mayerthorpe, Alta., Friday to wipe away the pain of tragedy and replace it with hope, pride and healing.
Organizers unveiled a $1.8-million park in tribute to the four RCMP officers who lost their lives in the March 2005 shooting.
About 1,600 people, along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and representatives from the RCMP, came together to witness the official opening of the park.
Mayerthorpe Fallen Four Memorial Society president Jurgen Preugschas said in his opening speech that the memorial will create a "living legacy of peaceful remembrance."
"The ongoing goal of this park is to show that beauty can return and sustain us," he said. "We all have a right and responsibly to move beyond grief."
He dedicated the park to every officer who has ever lost their life while in the line of duty.
Representatives from Kids for Cops, the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the RCMP and the Mayerthorpe Fallen Four Scoiety each individually unveiled the statues.
Const. Brock Myrol was the first statue to be unveiled -- his statue facing south towards his hometown of Red Deer.
Next was Const. Anthony Gordon, facing west towards his first detachment in Whitecourt, Alta. His statue stands in the "at ease" position.
Representatives then unveiled Const. Leo Johnston, his bronze statue facing north towards of his hometown of Lac La Biche. He stands at attention, ready for orders.
Const. Peter Schiemann was last to be unveiled, his statue facing east towards his hometown of Stony Plain. As the most experienced leader of the four, he gets the honour of standing in the saluting position.
One of the park's main orgainzers, Margaret Thibault, narrated each statue's unveiling, her voice wavering as she read each officer's name.
"These heroes died as four brothers," she said.
The members of the Fallen Four Society began raising the money for a memorial about one month after the March 2005 shooting.
Designers created the park to home five statues -- one for each fallen RCMP member and an obelisk in the centre of the park.
The seven-metre tall obelisk, capped with the forms of flying ducks, stands as a tribute to all officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty across Canada.
The grounds also include a day-use picnic area and playground.
The park cost $1.8 million to build. Provincial and federal governments contributed $730,000, and the balance was provided through fundraisers.
Thibault told the crowd that the heart of the community was unlocked when the four officers died.
"This work is a project from the heart and it is to be a testament to the esteem of each individual who gave their life to ensure the peace and safety of the citizens," she said. "It's a testament of our pride in all those who give their life. It embodies all that is good, all that is right."
Construction began in October 2006.
There are also walking paths to take visitors in and around the park and a gazebo.
A Terrible Tragedy
James Roszko, a violent cop-hater with a criminal record, shot the four officers to death on March 3, 2005, in Mayerthorpe, Alta. The tragedy was the national police force's worst single-day loss of life in more than a century.
Roszko ended up taking his own life after trading gunfire with other police officers.
The attack occurred as the four officers guarded a Quonset hut on Roszko's property.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the event heart-wrenching for all Canadians.
"It was a monstrous insult to all that is good and decent in the Canadian way of life," he said.
The Fallen Four
Const. Brock Myrol decided to become an RCMP officer three tears before his death.
He had worked as a security guard and studied towards an undergraduate arts degree from Red Deer College.
Born in Outlook, Sask., he came from a family that loved music.
He was later raised in Red Deer.
Myrol had just proposed to his fianc� Anjila about three months before his death.
He was cremated wearing a special ring matching one his fianc� wears. It is engraved with the words, "Thank you for loving me."
Const. Anthony Gordon was a member of the Whitecourt RCMP detachment.
The 28-year-old left behind his pregnant wife Kim and his young son, Spencer.
He never got to meet his second child, Anthony junior.
Gordon, born in Edmonton, was eventually laid to rest in Red Deer - the town where he spent most of his life.
Family members told CTV News he first wanted to be a Mountie in Grade 1 after a member of the force visited his school.
Friends said the family man loved the outdoors and he loved to fish and snowmobile.
Const. Leo Johnston was only 32-years-old when he was killed, leaving behind his new wife as well as his parents and twin brother.
He joined the RCMP in 2001 with his twin brother Lee. Both were Ace Marksmen and received their crown pistols and Crown Rifles badges.
Johnston was born in Owl River, Alta., and grew up in Lac La Biche.
Const. Peter Schiemann was only 25-years-old when he was killed in the line of duty.
He was a member of the Mayerthorpe detachment.
Born in Petrolia, Ont., his family later moved to Stony Plain where he was raised.
Family members said he fell in love with the RCMP after he went on ride-alongs with members.
He completed his RCMP training in November 2000 and worked in general policing and highway patrol.
He is described as a man who was devoted to his faith.