When Carlen Chorney was given $150 in a pay-it-forward campaign, he knew exactly where to put the money; into poppies to place on the gravestones of Ponoka’s past veterans.
The idea came from the RBC Canada Make 150 Count campaign and for the 20-year-old Chorney it really was a no-brainer.
Chorney said the No Stone Left Alone memorial, which brings poppies to the headstones of fallen and past veterans inspired him to do the same. So he bought enough poppies from the Ponoka Legion to ensure every veteran’s headstone at the Forest Home Cemetery would have its own poppy.
He held the event Nov. 3 and several friends, family and a few citizens came to help out by placing a poppy pin in the grass at the foot of the headstones.
“I just feel they (veterans) gave their lives for us, so we should respect them,” explained Chorney of the initiative.
There were enough poppies to cover every headstone in the cemetery’s two fields of honour, explained Marlene Perry, Legion Poppy chairman.
“I am so happy to see the young people getting involved in this again,” said Perry.
For Chorney, he says that Canadians have much to be proud of. He doesn’t have to look over his shoulder due to the fact that past soldiers died to protect citizens. As one gets older, there comes an understanding of the importance of remembrance.
“You’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so what you do today matters a lot,” explained Chorney.
Physical items such as money and possessions don’t follow a person to the grave, he added, pointing out that it is what a person does in their life that follows them and what people remember most.
“What a wonderful way to look at it,” added Perry.
Her father was a veteran who suffered many of the mental scars that come with war. She remembers her father once saying it took him many months before he could walk all the way across the farmyard without looking over his shoulder. “He said he tried a step further every so often.”
Getting the word out to residents was relatively quick with Chorney giving folks about two days of notice. He said the goal is to continue the initiative next year but to give people more notice.
He is most proud of the effort and the support from those who came to help out.
The Make 150 Count campaign came as a way to celebrate 150 years of Canada and RBC thousands of youth across the country.