Soldiers remembered at legion’s Decoration Day

Aug. 23 was Decoration Day and the legion commemorated veterans at Ponoka’s Forest Home Cemetery by putting up small Canada flags at each veteran’s grave.

Norman Clair of the Ponoka Legion fixes up a fallen wreath on a windy day in the Forest Home Cemetery. A ceremony was held with flags being placed at the grave of each veteran.

By Adam Eisenbarth

While Remembrance Day will not be observed until November, the Ponoka Legion is urging people to keep veterans and today’s men and women in Afghanistan in their minds all year long.

Aug. 23 was Decoration Day and the legion commemorated veterans at Ponoka’s Forest Home Cemetery by putting up small Canada flags at each veteran’s grave.

Dorothy Houghton of the legion says it’s our duty to keep the courage of these people in our minds.

“We need to remember every day the veterans, the young men and women that went overseas, and even now, the men and women that are serving in Afghanistan. We are living in a free country and it is because of what these people have done for us.”

Rev. Brian Melbourne provided a service at the ceremony and said the Second World War soldiers who fought for our freedoms are never far from his mind. These were just young people who did not have the training but remained brave enough to fight.

“Many of the young pilots for instance, they barely had enough training. They would fly out and never come back, because they could never get good enough to survive.”

The service included hymns and placement of wreathes. The importance of remembering the harsh affects of war is growing as many who experienced the Second World War have since died. Melbourne believes many countries are starting to move away from war.

“People today don’t have quite such a strong sense of patriotism. I suspect patriotism could even die out. I think people have had enough of that outlook. People are more politically aware because of the technological advances. They can see websites and are more aware of what’s going on. I’d imagine quite a substantial amount of the population in most countries would like to see military budgets cut because they think money could be better spent on things like researching diseases and that kind of thinking.”

In his service, Melbourne mentioned two highly regarded Canadians.

“I thought today because it’s not actually Remembrance Day and we call it Decoration Day, I thought I would talk about two highly decorated Canadians. One was William Stephenson, the other was Sir Max Aitken.”

Stephenson was a decorated First World War pilot, and a Second World War spy most famous for being the real-life inspiration for James Bond; Aitken was a friend of Sir Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, who appointed him as minister of aircraft production and later minister of supply.

The two are very important to the history of Canada and made a crucial impact in the Second World War.

Though Melbourne said it’s important to give these two the credit they deserve, there are so many men and women that don’t get credit.

“They were individuals like you and I. They found themselves in situations and danger which is not something that anyone plans to do, or looks forward to do, but it was thrust upon them. I mean I can’t imagine what it feels like. These people need to be remembered for their character.”

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