More than 600 volunteers turned out this weekend in North River to build a community park in memory of a soldier who died in Afghanistan.
The Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy Community Park at All Hallows Elementary took a full school year to plan out, but just one day to build, thanks to help on Saturday from all the volunteers who turned out.
Eddie Russell, member of the park planning committee, said the idea started when the principal of the school called for parent volunteers to help clean up and repair the playground.
Eddie Russell, a member of the park planning committee, says it will uphold the legacy of the community's fallen soldier.(CBC)
Russell said that when the parents finished helping the school, they thought about what more they might be able to do.
"It's a wonderful feeling today to see the work," Russell said. "There's been over 600 people here today, throughout the day, coming and going."
He said they partnered up with Let Them Be Kids, an organization that helps communities build parks and playgrounds for kids.
Let Them Be Kids matched what the community fundraised dollar for dollar to help build the park and memorial garden.
Sgt. James Butler, who was in North River to help build the park, met Cpl. Murphy while they were stationed in Afghanistan in 2003.
"I had a flag up on my tent — a Newfoundland flag — and he came down and he saw the flag so we started chatting, and chatted for about an hour," Butler said.
He said that the work done on the park will make a difference in the lives of the community members.
"I think it's outstanding. I do a lot of work with other families of fallen soldiers, and what this does for the family is remarkable," Butler said.
"It gives them the sense that they still have their son or their daughter, their loved ones still with them, and to see the community come together like this really sets an example for all other places."
Russell said the park is already an important part of the community.
"This is about citizenship, it's about hope, justice, love — all that and the things that he stood for," Russell said.
"He's a fallen hero, and it just means a lot. You want to build that legacy, and to have something like this, his memory will be here forever — it'll be here for his family, it'll be here for the military people, it'll be here for the community, for the kids, for the teachers — it's just very special."