The Ponoka Legion hosted its annual Veteran’s Dinner Sept 29 to honour and remember its veterans for their services.
The evening was filled with toasts to the Queen, fallen comrades, veterans and the Ladies Auxiliary. The purpose of the evening is “a recognition of what they have done,” explained Legion president Stan Orlesky.
This year the legion gave special thanks to Lydia (Babe) Prediger who has been a member of the Ponoka Legion since 1973.
Prediger, now 89 years old, enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in October, 1942 and was honourably discharged in November 1945.
She was praised for her fundraising efforts for the legion and her dedication to the Ladies Auxiliary, of which she has been a member since 1952.
Much of her time was dedicated to helping at many events such as skating carnivals, bingos, supervising teen dances and even teaching them how to dance.
Originally from Saint Johns, N.B., the name Babe comes from “being the baby of a family of 13.”
When asked how she felt about being honoured, Prediger’s answer was simple.
“I’m a veteran. Just glad to be part of the legion after all these years,” she stated.
Family and friends were there to see her honoured and her friend Olga Hendrickson was pleased and honoured for Prediger. “I could add she’s a wonderful neighbour.”
Guests to the dinner were Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox and Mayor Larry Henkelman, who each took a moment to speak to attendees.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I was when we announced the rebranding back to the original Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy,” stated Calkins.
He feels it is important to remember the men and women who gave their lives to the service of Canada. He added monuments such as Vimy Ridge help people remember the endeavours soldiers.
“It really puts into perspective the sacrifices that were made on our behalf,” Calkins stated.
“We locally, provincially, and nationally should never forget the sacrifices made by those men and women as they served our country. Whether they served in one of the world wars, Korea or more recently Afghanistan, or any place in the world. Canadians have always been the first to step up, volunteer and to serve,” stated Fox.
He feels the Canadian Forces have been among the first in the role as peacekeepers in areas of unrest. “Thank you again to all those that have served on behalf of the province. I would also like to say, personally, thank you.”
Henkelman, on behalf of town council and the community, offered “special recognition and acknowledgement to all the veterans.”
He feels their selflessness has been important to residents and their contributions to the fourth volume of the Royal Canadian Legion Alberta-NWT Command Book of Recognition. The goal of the book is to remember veterans for their work and their time in service. Families and veterans can submit their stories and where they are from for publication in the book.
“Thank you to everyone who worked so hard in volume 4. I know I have gone through and read the past volumes, and it’s astounding that the past veterans that come from our community,” said Henkelman.
There were veterans from the Korean War, the Second World War and active soldiers who were in attendance, and anyone with a connection to Ponoka was invited to the dinner, explained Orlesky.
Those veterans who are in volume 4 received a copy of the book and if they were unable to attend, family members received a copy.