Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright, and Mayor Rob Saunders honoured local Second World War veterans at the Pioneer Lodge and Points West on May 20 with pins and certificates recognizing their service to Canada.
“I was delighted to honour these survivors of the Second World War. Canadians who served in the Second World War - Canadians who now live in the Vegreville-Wainwright constituency,” Benoit said. “It’s a real opportunity to recognize in a way that is so small, but important to them and I think more important to those who live in their communities. Many had no idea of the sacrifices they made and of the contribution they made and this helps recognize that.”
The pin and certificate program was announced last fall. Benoit was scheduled to present at Points West in February but had to postpone after the facility went under quarantine. Presenting the pins and certificates in person is a very minimal way to recognize the veterans for what they contributed, he said.
Benoit also feels it’s important the veterans are acknowledged so they know that people remember what they went through for Canada’s freedom. He said the country’s history hasn’t always been easy and despite the current recession, times are still good.
“These things come and go,” he said of the current economic situation, “but we live in such a wonderful country, with such opportunity and that opportunity was won. The freedoms we have were won by the contributions made by our men and women in the Second World War, First World War, Korea and other places around the world, so it is something that is important to me.”
Pioneer Lodge resident Archie Campbell, who served with the Regina Rifles when he was 20 years old, was happy with the honour and recognition he and his fellow veterans received from Benoit. Campbell was first stationed in Camrose then did his advanced training in Calgary before serving overseas for a year and a half.
“It feels great,” he said of the recognition. “This is the second time, I’ve got a medal here from France that I got about five months ago.”
Campbell pointed to a picture on the wall at the Pioneer Lodge of a friend he went to Europe with who never returned. He says every time he walks by the picture he has to stop for a moment to reflect.
“You just don’t forget those guys,” he said. “We were the best looked after veterans that Canada ever had.”