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Remembrance Day, rededication attracts large crowd to Bluffton Commemorative Memorial Park

A chilly wind and overcast skies greeted a substantial gathering on Tuesday, Nov. 11 for both Remembrance Day services and the dedication of a revamped park north of Bluffton.
Amidst overcast skies and thick fog

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A chilly wind and overcast skies greeted a substantial gathering on Tuesday, Nov. 11 for both Remembrance Day services and the dedication of a revamped park north of Bluffton.

With the assistance of a number of corporate partners and Ponoka County, the long-neglected park which features a large rock, was recently refurbished with extensive groundwork, new flagpoles, a new plaque and an enlarged parking area being added and will eventually feature new picnic tables.

Among the dignitaries on hand for the ceremony was Ponoka County Councilor Paul McLauchlin who said the park symbolizes a quality in mankind that unfortunately, there is all too little of.

“It’s a symbol of generosity. There’s an excellent turnout here from what is perceived as a small community. It’s an amazing amount of people, and this site represents generosity both for what it symbolizes within the community as well as what it symbolizes in history as a whole and in both World War I and World War II,” he said. “People gave their lives – strangers, people I’ve never met paid the ultimate sacrifice and I think this is an excellent and a wonderful day. It’s cold and a little bit windy, but I was warm enough listening to the ceremony.”

Warm or cold, McLauchlin said it is difficult to imagine the hardship that our armed forces endured during times of conflict in Canadian history, especially the First World War.

“World War I was the most incredibly useless loss of life that’s ever existed in human history. It’s an amazing atrocity. It’s hard to even fathom a 37 to 40 per cent fatality rate,” he said. “It’s hard to also imagine what they went through. It’s fitting here today, because we might be cold, but we’ll probably never be as cold as they were and they survived through it. It’s an amazing symbol of what people are really about.”

While he talked a lot about the sacrifices made by Canadians in both World Wars, McLuachlin was also quick to credit other sacrifices that have been made on battlefields across the globe, including those currently serving in Afghanistan.

“I think we’ve gotten soft and we need to respect the fact that other people are a lot tougher than we are and they went through a lot worse than we have,” he said. “That also bodes well for the veterans coming back from Afghanistan. They’re tough as nails and we can only imagine what they’re going through.”

Along with ConocoPhillips and a number of other corporate sponsors, Ponoka County also played a major role in the redevelopment of the park, which was spearheaded by the Bluffton and District Chamber of Commerce.

“Whatever support we can give to the Chamber, the County is willing to assist to make them successful,” McLauchlin said. “As a hamlet, it’s a tough go so whatever we can do to create a sense of community, we’ll do it. That’s what we’re here for.”

Representing the Chamber at the dedication was President Maeghan Menear who said despite the inclement weather, was pleased to see how many citizens, both locally and from elsewhere, were in attendance.

“I thought it was a terrific dedication to this community,” she said. “The crowd was not too big – just the right size. It was a little hard to hear over the traffic, but I’m glad they came out for the service. We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, support, good wishes and thank you’s for a job well done. But we couldn’t have done it without our sponsors.”

Menear, like McLaughlin, also took the time to relate the weather on the morning of the ceremony back to the conditions Canadian forces have had to endure throughout several major conflicts.

“For us, it shows that if it’s a little chilly or a little cold, we can endure that. They went through a lot more than we do, so the least we can do for them is be out here, even if it’s a little chilly,” she said. “They sacrificed their lives for us. I am so humbled to present the park back to our community as a dedication to our veterans because at least it shows we haven’t forgotten about them.”