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Ponoka Legion to host upcoming commemorative events

Members of the Ponoka Legion are preparing to host two special commemorative events in the coming weeks.
(File photo)

Members of the Ponoka Legion are preparing to host two special commemorative events in the coming weeks.

“The first one is on Sept. 16 and it’s called Decoration/Veterans Day. We meet at the cemetery at 10:30 a.m. and we will be putting flags up on the tombstones,” explained Joanne Palechek, adding that a short ceremony is also held at the event.

Palechek serves on the Legion’s executive and she is also the poppy chairperson.

“It’s to honour our veterans,” she said. “And anybody who would like to join us is welcome.”

Following this event, the annual candlelight vigil is slated to run on Oct. 11.

“We are meeting at the cemetery at 7 p.m.”

She said this event is to commemorate the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation by Canadian forces during the final months of the Second World War.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “From September 1944 to April 1945, the First Canadian Army fought German forces on the Scheldt estuary — opening the port of Antwerp for Allied use — and then cleared northern and western Netherlands of Germans, allowing food and other relief to reach millions of desperate people.

“More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen died fighting in the Netherlands. Today, Canada is fondly remembered by the Dutch for ending their oppression under the Nazis.”

Palechek said eventually, the Dutch started placing candles on the graves of Canadian soldiers, so it became a tradition here in Canada as well.

“It’s amazing. It’s just before it gets dark, and we have a little bit of a ceremony. Then, all of the students and anybody who would like to place candles on the graves can do that.

“By the time they get them all lit, it’s dark — and it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said.

Afterward, a luncheon is held back at the legion.

“We’ve sort of carried that on. (Local high school teacher) Ron Labrie brings his students down to this, too.”

Labrie has, over the years, taken tours of students overseas for first-hand explorations of sites that are connected to military history.

Meanwhile, these events are crucial as they help to keep the memory alive of those who gave so much for the freedom we experience today, she said.

“Things are changing so fast in the world, and we just want for people to remember the sacrifices that have been made.”

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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