The tradition of remembrance remains strong at the Ponoka Legion.
A special gravestone decorating was held June 11 at the Forest Home Cemetery, which had Legion members placing Canadian flags on veterans’ gravestones.
In the morning, members placed the flags on the gravestones and in the evening held a special ceremony to honour their lives and sacrifices. Along with an address by Chaplain Tim Graff was The Last Post followed by a moment of silence and then attendees heard the Reveille.
After the placing of the wreaths, attendees, which included members of the Ponoka Air Cadets, took some time at the Ponoka Legion to hear from members who travelled to Europe recently.
Legion president Barb Olsen and her husband Dale spoke on some of the memories of the trip. Barb explained that along with six Legion members, other travellers, and 12 musicians from the Edmonton Transit Pipes and Drums band, the trip was a busy one.
This is the same marching band that parades with the Legion on Remembrance Day.
Barb says it was the band’s idea to bring this trip together, which was organized through Julie’s Travel. The war memorial tour was one to remember and she recommends people make the trip if possible.
“The band really focused on the 100th anniversary of (the Battle of) Vimy Ridge,” said Barb.
A distinct memory from the trip was being able to march with the band at just about every stop they took in. Barb says the band had pre-approval to march. At times the musicians were also able to play The Lament at specific cemeteries.
“It was very moving for us that were there,” said Dale.
One memory that stands out is seeing the upkeep and care at the cemeteries where Canadian soldiers are buried. Barb said Canada helps pay for the upkeep of those memorial sites, and it made her proud. It was a marked difference to the German cemeteries where no government subsidies are provided.
While each site visit brought lasting memories, the visit to Vimy Ridge left a mark. “You could see it from a long way,” explained Dale.
Along the way the reception was also strong with many groups pleased not only to see Legion members marching, but the pipes and drums band marching alongside them. “It was just really significant to have the band march,” said Barb.