It was a cold Remembrance Day but -20 degrees C weather didn’t stop veterans from marching to the Ponoka Legion Nov. 11 to honour and remember their comrades who died in the line of duty.
Among those who marched were RCMP Mounties in full serge, Mayor Larry Henkelman, members of the Ponoka Air Cadets, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and other residents. The Edmonton Transit Pipe Band accompanied the marchers to the legion where president Stan Orlesky said many of the band members had volunteered their time to come to Ponoka as road conditions did not allow them to take a bus.
It was standing room only at the Ponoka Legion during which many community groups were able to share in the day by laying wreaths while residents looked on. Chaplain Len Eichler led the opening prayer. He also spoke about the importance of remembrance with one key point: “To all our veterans, thanks to you, we are free. And we join in prayer and plead. Oh God of nations, spare us yet. Lest we forget, lest we forget.”
Many community groups showed their support by laying a wreath singing Amazing Grace. Another song was I Come to the Garden Alone and the poem In Flanders Fields, written by John Mcrae was read by Catlin Huseby.
Representing Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins was former MP Dale Johnston.
“This is an extremely important event for all of us,” stated Johnston, who also feels it is also an important social time for everyone.
Representing Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox was Craig Paterson, who spent 25 years in the army and navy combined. He praised the Ponoka Legion for bringing as many people as they do to the ceremony. He believes there is much to be thankful for.
“People have gone before us. The shoulders we stand on, we have to remember them,” said Paterson.
Former Mountie Les Squires has missed one Remembrance Day ceremony in the past 22 years and for him it is about one thing — respect.
His father was in the Royal Air Force in England and Squires is grateful for the work his father did.
RCMP Cpl. Dave Heaslip also has only missed one Remembrance Day ceremony; his father was in the armed forces.
Four air cadets stood as an honour guard at the cenotaph in the Legion and bowed their heads during the entire ceremony and did the same when residents laid wreaths on the cenotaph outside. While doing so Mounties, Air Cadets, and veterans stood at attention.
Orlesky was proud of the day and the many volunteers and hours dedicated to ensure the day went well. “I thought it went wonderful.”
He asked people not only to remember on Nov. 11 but every day they had a chance.
Ponoka County Reeve Gordon Svenningsen was in attendance as well as RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm.