The annual Veterans Dinner, hosted by the Fernie Legion Branch 36 on Monday, June 4, was very well attended.
Approximately 70 veterans, first responders, their families, as well as local government officials attended the evening, which was dedicated to honouring the sacrifices of those who put their country, and community, first.
Legion Branch 36 president Jeannie Watson spoke just before a toast to the veterans and their widows was made. She thanked everyone for attending.
“It is extremely important that we keep up the tradition of showing respect to all of our veterans, their families and to the first responders and their families,” she said.
“It’s such a tough job. Each year we are a couple of people less than last year. We need to honour and show respect to them as well. If it weren’t for their sacrifices, maybe none of us would be here today.”
For a long time, Legion Branch 36 has been trying to get a certain local to join their branch. But before he did, he had to complete a mission. This year, he completed that mission.
Watson presented Bob Cronin with his 50-year award medal, honouring his time spent with Legion Branch 44 in Vancouver.
Legion Branch 36 past president Jennifer Cronin then recited a poem written by her 96-year-old father, Captain Retired Ken Carlson. He is a veteran of World War II.
The title of the poem was June.
The Weather Forecast and phase of the moon
Suggested that the fifth day in June
Would be the time to invade the shore
Before the enemy armed it more.
The German Army was well protected
In concrete bunkers they had erected
And they lined the cliff beyond the beach
To make it harder for invaders to reach.
The Allies had to yield to fate
And at the last minute change the date
Due to a sudden summer storm
And weather that was not the norm.
The weather cleared enough that night
For Allied bombers to make the flight
Over the enemy gun emplacements
And their barracks and other arrangements.
So the sixth day of June in nineteen forty four
Became known as D-day forevermore
Many Allied bombs were dropped
And much enemy reinforcement was stopped.
In addition to bombs, paratroopers were there
And gliders full of Allies filled the air
While this was happening, if you looked to the sea
You would see the largest armada in history.
They were all heading for the beaches of Normandy
An invasion force set to make Europe free
The American, British and Canadian armies too
Were combining in strength as the armada grew.
After the bombers the beach assaults began
And often ended in fighting man to man
Shells from the ships tore at the defensive shore
While commandos hit land and took casualties galore.
The Allies prevailed and rushed inland
To join the paratroops and make a stand.
They advanced and more allied troops as well
And the skirmishes turned into a living hell.
All through June, the war was waged
Many armies were fully engaged
But June was not to see the wars end
More troops were there to defend.
But this rhyme is about the month of June
When spring turns to summer and birds sing in tune
When leaves appear on the trees everywhere
And gardens all bloom with flowers to share.
“Veterans and those that served in the armed forces are a huge source of pride for our country,” said Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano.
“It’s because of our veterans that we are fortunate to live in a free Canada. But freedom has never been free. It comes at a huge price. Canadians enjoy it because of the men and women that fought to protect our rights, and from those individuals who paid the ultimate price, those who have given their lives for our country,” she added.
Mayor Giuliano also thanked the first responders.
“We are very grateful that there are people like you to do this type of work,” she said.