Members of the community packed the Ponoka Legion, Branch 66, on Remembrance Day to honour the lives of soldiers who fought for Canada.
To start the ceremony, members of the Legion, RCMP, veterans and other community groups braved the wintry weather to march from the Ponoka County office to the Legion. Bringing the solemn music of drums and bagpipes were members of the Pipes and Drums of Edmonton Transit.
Pilot Drew Watson conducted a flyover with his 1934 Harvard to honour Ponoka’s fallen soldiers and support from the community was strong with many community groups being represented during the laying of the wreaths.
Legion chaplain Reverend Len Eichler gave an impassioned speech with words of caution directed at Canada’s leaders.
Eichler was deeply moved by the funeral of Cpl. Nathan Cirrilo in Hamilton, Ont. Cirrilo’s son Marcus attended the funeral, which made a lasting impression on Eichler.
“He’s (Marcus) wearing a shirt that seems several sizes too big for his neck and a hat that is definitely too large for his head. It’s the cap that his father wore just a few days ago,” said Eichler.
He suggests the world around Canadians has become confusing as he feels the country should be able to celebrate freedom of all religions and cultures. Many people came to Canada seeking freedom to worship any religion.
“They were free to worship. They were free not to worship . . . This is Canada but things are changing folks,” said Eichler.
The efforts of veterans from past wars are being forgotten with feelings of fear and threatening acts but Eichler does not want to forget the sacrifices made. Many who returned suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder and struggled to find their way into society.
“These are the freedoms our veterans died for,” he said.
Eichler says active soldiers and veterans must now be careful with what they wear in order not to be targeted, which is adding to the fear and worry over safety in Canada. He suggests there is only so much freedom to go around.
“I don’t want anymore rights and freedoms. Freedoms are like a pie in the holy sky, there’s only so much to give,” he added. “By demanding a bigger slice for myself I am diminishing that which is left for my fellow citizens.”
With worries of terrorist acts inside Canada, Eichler feels Prime Minister Stephen Harper and policy makers must be cautious in upcoming days.
“We hope they are going to put in new legislation to give us more security but they have to be careful not to infringe on our liberties,” said Eichler.
After the ceremony, the pipe band played several songs before a large lunch.