The Royal Canadian Legion’s mission is to serve veterans and their dependents, promote remembrance and act in the service of Canada and its communities. For many years the Legion has been doing just that and inviting the community with open arms to join in the services.
The Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is very active in the community. The Ladies Auxiliary and other members have been dedicated to volunteering and putting on events at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury and many other places in town.
Ponoka’s own auxiliary members Rose Stoddart, Sheila Debney and Isobel Odgaard were awarded with the Meritorious Service Award for their outstanding service in the community and the thousands of volunteer hours they put in.
In Canada, according to the Legion’s website, there are 370,000 members who provide many hours of community service throughout the country. 472,320 hours were dedicated to needy veterans, 559,820 hours were given to seniors and 167,396 hours were spent supporting youth activities. There were 197,707 hours given to community service and the Legion’s economic impact is estimated to be $375,000,000 per year.
The Legion also fulfills their mandate by distributing poppies about two weeks before Remembrance Day. Legions from all over Canada distribute 18 million poppies and 70,000 wreaths and crosses each year.
The Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion supports the community and hosts many events including Remembrance Day, Decoration Day, medals and other celebrations.
My question is, why aren’t there more people attending these important events? These wars did not happen that long ago and there are many veterans that have experienced these wars who are still living and active in Ponoka.
The Candlelight Tribute Ceremony did attract young people and some families, and it was so good to see them there. It was a beautiful event that one can only benefit from. But given the population of Ponoka and the fact that not everyone could be busy on a Thursday night, there should have been more people in attendance showing their respect for these veterans.
It’s a great thing to be a part of, especially for young people and children. These services teach respect, honour and elicit awe when you stand and watch members of the Legion at the ceremony and think about what veterans have gone through with leaving their families to fight and losing friends to war.
Also, with the war going on in the Middle East, it is even more surprising not to see more people out there promoting the efforts of the Legion.
It could be that the word of these events isn’t getting out there as much as it should but if you do hear about it, make a point to go and spread the word yourself, encourage others at work or school to come with you.
Think about what freedom means, what would happen if you didn’t have it and thank those who have made it possible for you to grow up in a country that embraces freedom.
The Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion does a lot for the community and puts on these events for the following generations so that they will never forget, so take your family or friends to these events and honour those who fought for your freedom.