There was standing room only at the Ponoka Legion on Remembrance Day as hundreds of residents came to show their respects to the veterans and the memory of the befallen.
The ceremony started at 10:15 a.m. with a short march and parade to the Legion’s cenotaph with members of the Legion, Air Cadets and RCMP and with accompaniment by the Edmonton Transit Pipes and Drums band. Dignitaries representing local, provincial and federal leaders paid their respects as well.
It gave community groups an opportunity to show their respects by placing a wreath during the ceremony. Groups such as the girl guides, boys scouts, Boys and Girls Club and others helped create an environment of respect and remembrance.
Legion chaplain Rev. Len Eichler told attendees that across Canada people have stopped to take time and remember the soldiers of the past. He says the poppy flower has created beauty to the many soldiers’ graveyards who died for their country.
“They (poppy flowers) keep faith with those who sleep,” said Eichler.
He suggested Canadians are lucky to have the freedoms many other people around the world do not. While most people struggle to gain freedom from corrupt leaders, Canadians can vote for their leaders and make a change to government if they are unhappy. “We don’t throw bombs, we cast ballots.”
“We don’t put in prison those who lost. We give them a pension,” he said lightheartedly.
“I’m so glad for my children and grand children this is our home and native land,” he added.
Freedom, said Eichler, is something that should not be taken for granted. He suggested Canadians would do well to remember the feelings of veterans who would have given their lives to secure freedom in Canada.
The veterans who did return from battle suffered other challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder as well as injuries and other mental concerns. Eichler urged attendees to remind themselves of those sacrifices. He suggests a positive attitude of remembrance. “Lest we forget.”
The ceremony was followed by a pot luck lunch and music performances by the pipes and drums band.