Shown here is one of the first Armistice Day ceremonies held in Ponoka in the 1920s along Chipman Avenue at the Elk’s Hall. As you always very kindly do, please purchase a poppy pin in honour of our veterans of yesterday and today, as well as joining in on the annual Remembrance Day parade and ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #66 starting at 10:15 a.m. Photo courtesy of the Fort Ostell Museum

Reflections: A tribute to all Ponoka’s soldiers, past and present

By Mike Rainone for the News

For a century millions of citizens of all ages and walks of life have faithfully gathered together on November 11th to salute and share their deep respect and appreciation for those men and women who have and always will continue to bravely serve in our Canadian Armed Forces at home and overseas.

Once again on Remembrance Day this Sunday, Nov. 11, we will proudly and quietly walk or march to the music of the piper alongside our veterans, soldiers, Legion members, family, friends, and guests to the Legion community Cenotaph, where wreaths will be laid to honour the supreme service and sacrifices of so many.

Wearing the Poppy is a community tradition

Over the years growing up in and around Ponoka most of us have had the wonderful opportunity to learn about or get to know hundreds of our war veterans and their families from throughout our town and county of Ponoka. As mothers and fathers and sons and daughters we have prayed for our loved ones and neighbours as they fought and served to protect our nation as well as remembered and mourned for so many of those who proudly gave their lives and were unable to return home with their battalions to be with their families. On Remembrance Day it has always been a longstanding honour and tradition to wear the bright red poppies, which are distributed with appreciation for our kind donations, and are worn when we gather as a community to watch or take part in that colourful but solemn procession every Nov. 11th mid-morning to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #66 Ponoka cenotaph along Highway 2A south.

As is always the case during the special friendship, appreciation, and comradeship of this annual community event, following the laying of the wreaths and the sharing of a moment of silence, a congenial celebration is hosted at the Legion club rooms. It is there that everyone is invited to have the casual and enjoyable opportunity of meeting some of our surviving veterans and their families, along with others who are currently serving in our Canadian Armed Forces. While visiting the Legion everyone is also invited to browse around the comfortable facility and admire the countless vivid displays of photos, plaques, and mementos that are in the honour and longstanding memory of the over 500 local veterans who have served over the years in countless corridors of War and Peace Keeping efforts since the late 1800s. Since 1928 hundreds of faithful Royal Canadian Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary members have passionately and faithfully supported and honoured the amazing efforts of our Ponoka district veterans and their families, as well as hosting year round activities that support this vital cause as well as their community.

Lest we forget them over the years

It would be way back in the early growth and progress of the Town of Ponoka that local renowned poet and district farmer Mr. D. A. Morrow sadly realized that although the guns of the Great War had been silenced for over 20 years, once again our lads were being called into another horrific confrontation with the beginning of World War 2. In their support and honour he wrote this very vivid indictment against the war-mongers, as well as issuing a sincere plea to those leaders whose duty it is to keep the ongoing Peace between our global nations.

Remembrance Day 1938

On this dark and dreary morning in the cold November rain,

I think of those numbered crosses that dotted the Flanders’ Plain, of those youths, the pride of our nation, a sacrifice to Thor, in the muck and blood of the trenches in a war that would end all war.

Oh, ye who worship blindly at the feet of the mighty Thor, and ye who batten like maggots on the greed of the lust of war.

There on the day of reckoning when each soul has it’s due, when you face those ‘pale battalions’, what will they say for you?

Theirs was a freedman’s duty, yours an eternal shame, for the beast they died to conquer, through you, now lives again.

Again is a warlord ranting as he boasts to the world of might, again have his servile minions, girded their loins for the fight.

And when all accounts are settled, and on that grim reckoning day, heavy your guilty conscience, heavy the debt you’ll pay.

And now in those ‘moments of silence’ we pray that war may forever cease; and for all of you who ‘sleep neath the poppies’…May you rest forever in Peace.

Surely a very bold but sincere message written some 80 years ago, but as we venture into our very challenging future, we may never really know about the perils of war and conflict that are always looming on the horizon.

For this reason each and every one of us as Canadian citizens must always continue to support and honour our soldiers and Peacekeepers of both yesterday and today. These men and women have and always will be our unsung heroes, who watch over us each and every day, and must never be forgotten throughout our ongoing generations.

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