BY CHARLENE WIRTZ
The Royal Canadian Legion Wadena Branch No. 62 has partnered with the local Farmers and Friends to provide Wadena with another annual reminder of our veterans and their service during various conflicts.
Two years ago, Watson Legion started an initiative to create banners for the town’s light standards honouring their veterans. This was done in collaboration with families and prompted other local Legions to follow suit. Wadena’s Legion, at first deterred by the sheer number of veterans as 751 veterans are on record from the area who have served in World War One and since.
“We were concerned that so many would be left out. But a lot of the names I had never heard, and the families were five generations back, and we had no idea how to contact them. So we have mostly restricted it to World War Two and on,” Wadena Legion President Bonnie Wallin told the News.
After seeing the banners in Watson, Wallin talked to Legion members in Kelvington, who have also done the banners, to get an idea of how they implemented it. From their experience, cost as well as veteran numbers were identified as a concern, as was putting them up and taking them down every year.
However, over this past winter the local Farmers and Friends group stepped in. Shaun Berezuik contacted the Legion and indicated that Farmers and Friends were interested in contributing, so Local Legion members went over the numbers again. Farmers and Friends will not only cover the annual costs of hanging the banners but members have also volunteered to build the metal brackets as well.
“It’s been really interesting,” Wallin said, about contacting families to participate. “I have talked to people for the first time in 50 years.” She is quite excited about it, and has identified some particularly interesting veteran stories.
The Legion has identified 104 light standards within the town of Wadena on which banners can be placed. With so many veterans, the banners will be two-sided, a different veteran or family of veterans on each side of the finished 30-inch by 61-inch vinyl product.
The process is quite time-consuming for the banners to ready by October when they are slated to be unveiled and will hang for the six weeks prior to Remembrance Day.
So far at least 60 families have stepped forward to sponsor a veteran or family of veterans, far exceeding expectations, said Wallin.
If you are interested, there’s still time as the drop-dead deadline for applications has been moved to June 17. Contact Bonnie Wallin, 306.338.3119 or Brenda Pomedli, 306.328.4883 for details.