High Prairie citizens take the time to remember

Big Lakes County Reeve Richard Simard lays a wreath for the county.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

All Remembrance Day ceremonies in High Prairie are special, but perhaps this one had added significance.

It was the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Great War, the War to end All Wars, said High Prairie Royal Canadian Legion president Don Ebbett.

“Two-hundred and eighty Canadians were killed on Nov. 10-11 in the Battle of Mons [Belgian town],” said Ebbett, despite the fact everyone knew the war was ending.

“It was the first city to fall; we thought we appropriate it be taken back,” he added.

The ceremony began with the March On the Colours by the High Prairie Air Cadet Squadron, the singing of O Canada and recognition by applause to the veterans.

As is tradition, Ebbett read the names of the local deceased. He also paid respect to last year’s two lost veterans: Bryan Elliott and Louis Lalonde.

After The Last Post, two minutes of silence and Reveille, it was time for speeches.

High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Warren Wright gave the address from the federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He recalled the efforts in the wars defined Canada as a nation.

“We fought to keep our country strong.

“I offer my best wishes for a memorable ceremony.”

Wright also delivered the address from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on behalf of the Government of Alberta.

“Today, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, we pause in grateful reflection. Exactly a century ago, the Armistice was signed to end the First World War. We celebrate the day the guns fell silent,” Wright read.

“We honour the soldiers, nurses and others who came home wounded in body and scarred in spirit — and those who did not come home at all.”

Notley recognized the sacrifices made, also remembering those who stayed behind.

“Our thoughts turn to the families that were ruptured, the hearts that were broken and the blood that was shed so that we might live in peace. We also think today of the women and men now serving our country in places of conflict and crisis. We hope they will soon return to us, safe and secure.

“Our debt to those who served a century ago is great. Though we can never repay that debt, nor mend what has been irreparably torn, we can remember those who risked and gave their lives for our protection. Today, and always, we will remember them,” Wright con- cluded.

Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk thanked those in the packed hall for attending. He encouraged everyone, if in Ottawa, to visit the War Museum.

“You truly do get a feeling of the hardships they [soldiers] went through … the families left behind, the hardships they had to endure.”

Big Lakes County Reeve Richard Simard read a poem by Helen Gardner about poppies. Part of reads: “A symbol of courage we shall never forget, For the men who died in the war they met. They gave up their lives to save the rest, Although they died, they did their best. To the bravest of all man and your respected ranks, We look up to you always and give you thanks.”

And, Simard, added, “It is because of them we can enjoy freedom, democracy and peace.”

Legion Chaplain Pat Duffin presided over the service.

“Our fallen gave everything they had so we can enjoy what we have,” said Duffin, who later asked for blessings of the men and women who serve far and away.

Nazarene Church Pastor Brian Gilroy read a reading from 1 John while St. Mark’s Anglican Church Pastor Rev. Leon Cadsap spoke of remembering, saying Nov. 11 is about remembering, but the season is coming for the time of renewal.

He repeated many times the price for freedom was not free.

“It was paid for by the highest cost,” he said. “What they had done should be remembered, treasured, and honoured.

“We have not forgotten them and we honour them today.”

St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church Rev. George Okoye also offered prayers for the men and women who served and/or are serving to fight for our freedoms. He also asked God to protect and bless all who serve.

The audience also enjoyed the performance from the High Prairie Community Band, the reading of an award-winning poem by Ilona Drefs, and March Off the Colours.

A parade and lunch sponsored by Freson Bros. concluded the day.

High Prairie Elementary School student Illona Drefs reads a poem she wrote and won first place at the Legion District Level in the annual Remembrance Day contest. She was a Grade 6 student at High Prairie Elementary School when she received the prize last May for her poem As We Remember Them. Below is the poem:
As We Remember Them

By Ilona Drefs

While we are safe and warm at night,
The soldiers at war are cold and scared, brooding over the day’s fight.

Waiting for the next ambush or bomb,
It is nearly impossible to stay calm.

With only love keeping them from giving up hope,
The thought of their family’s freedom helps them cope.

With all the horrors of war,
Their friends are giving their live for
all the children in the future.

We often underestimate their sacrifice,
But there is no time to think twice.

Most soldiers are angels on earth,
They took a stand and gave us mirth.

To those who are or aren’t still among us. . .don’t fret.
For we shall never forget.


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