A pair of anniversaries that came in March hold a lot of emotions for a lot of people.
They can also be a trigger for others when they take a look back at just how things went down.
First up is the March 3, 2005 ambush of four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers near Mayerthorpe and the small village of Rochfort Bridge — two places that I spent a lot of time around while growing up.
It’s hard to fathom that it has been 15 years since that enormous tragedy that saw the young officers — Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston, Anthony Gordon, Brock Myrol — gunned down by a man that was well-known to both the people around the region and the police for suspected criminal activity for many years.
The general public may well remember the incident and aftermath as well as the fundraising effort to build the Fallen Four Memorial.
However, for anyone that is or has been a part of the emergency services — fire, police, ems, dispatchers — they can all remember where they were and what they were doing when the news hit the airwaves.
Myself, I was sitting down for coffee with some people I knew in small town Saskatchewan when the television in the corner broke from its regular programming to deliver the tragic news.
I can’t remember exactly how long it took to process, but I do remember feeling a sense of loss and wondering what affect this must have on those that would have to deal with the scene — their RCMP colleagues and local EMs, all of whom would likely know the Fallen Four personally.
With the anniversary, it can bring back those memories and evoke images of what it must have been like. Plus, those thoughts will often bring back some life-altering, grim or traumatic moments from one’s own experiences.
For myself, this situation is as hard to shake as the attacks and losses at the World Trade Centre in 2001.
Yet, even back then, the incident was extremely shocking. However, it showed that rural, small town Canada was not immune from what many thought was only ‘big city crime.’
Alas, since that time, rural crime has become more brazen, more violent and prevalent to the point where residents feel the need to fight back.
The other anniversary comes on March 2, 2018 — the day the Ponoka Fire Department was disbanded, supposedly to save money. These were volunteers who put their lives on the line.
Everyone knew the day was coming, since the issue had been defeated several times the previous two years. The end was a forgone conclusion.
However, what exacerbated the situation was the manner in which these loyal and committed people wound up being treated by both parties in the dismantling of a service in such an abrupt manner, leaving people feeling extremely disrespected — strong-armed out instead of treated like valued volunteers.
In fact, that particular feeling lingered for more than a year.
Several people involved had such a bad taste left in their mouths that they left and won’t be returning to a community they have lived in for many years. Others continue to look for a way out because they no longer feel wanted or needed.
Despite it being two years, the feelings remain fresh, raw and bitter for many.
They say time heals all wounds, but sometimes there are memories that will stay with people.
But that is…just an observation.