By Cole Parkinson
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #20 (Taber) is asking for the region’s help in identifying veterans from around the Municipal District of Taber.
With Remembrance Day only a few days away, the local legion is hoping to recognize as many men and women who have served as possible.
“In 2015 there was an initiative by a group of veterans, who were legion members, that approached the government about creating an honour roll to recognize members of the Canadian Armed Forces, first responders, members of the RCMP, police officers who have served in theatre of combat or conflict since 1953. That was the intent behind the program to recognize and honour our veterans,” said Chris Nguyen, sergeant at arms and member of the Remembrance committee. “The veteran group in the community are quite the humble bunch. They don’t want any pomp and circumstance, the majority of them don’t. They just served their time and they’re very nonchalant but that doesn’t mean their contributions weren’t heroic and meaningful. So we, despite whatever their position is and if they’re willing, are seeking the public’s assistance in helping to identify our local veterans who fit that criteria. We’d love to have the public’s support in coming forward to identify these members to recognize their contributions.”
While the honour roll has been around for two years now, there are still many veterans who have not signed up to be honoured which is something Nguyen hopes changes.
The local Branch #20 has a reputable slate of veterans involved but he would like to see all veterans in the populace celebrated for their service.
“With our #20 branch we’ve got a solid, active 18 veterans who are still active within the legion itself and we know of 30 or so identified veterans within the community and surrounding areas. We know that there is more and this is since 1953 so this doesn’t just mean World War II and the Vietnam War era veterans, we’re looking for anybody who has served in that capacity since 1953. As recent as anybody that may have just left the military are people we are seeking,” said Nguyen.
As 1953 is the designated first year of the roll call, some of the veterans have passed away making it more of a challenge to identify and confirm which means they have to rely on living family members to help.
“Let’s say if the veteran has unfortunately passed on or is incapacitated in any way and they’re not capable of completing their own application then, yes, we would love to have the support of the family member’s to help recognize their family members contributions,” said Nguyen. “Especially for those members who didn’t have a lot of family or friends that they left behind. There are several, even in our own cemetery (that) have no lineage since then so it’s very difficult. Like I said, whatever it is the veteran community has this silent bravado, which is a great thing. Not a lot of people are coming forward to be recognized. The nature of that community is such so it’s not a surprise to us that we are having difficulty.”
Specifically the branch is looking for assistance to identify veterans buried in Taber Cemetery, Barnwell Cemetery, Purple Springs Cemetery and Grassy Lake Cemetery.
The lack of members and resources is a big reason why the Taber Legion is reaching out to the public for assistance.
“Our legion unfortunately is experiencing a bit of transition where our numbers are a bit lower than we would like them to be so that’s why we’re reaching out to the public. We do have active veterans who are trying to go out and encourage other veterans to come forward as well and to participate but our resources are a bit thin,” said Nguyen.
For any veterans who are interested in the roll call, they have two different options to get their name in.
“There is a Government of Canada roll call where they can apply online, or we encourage them to come forward to the Royal Canadian Legion down at Branch #20,” said Nguyen.
For more information, veterans are encouraged to visit the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #20 located at 5205 48th Avenue in Taber or go online at http://www.veterans.gc.ca.