Event gives chance to hear veterans' stories
An upcoming event in Sylvan Lake is striving to attract veterans from all over Central Alberta.
The first annual silent auction and Veteran’s Appreciation Day is scheduled to run at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre this Saturday, May 19, from noon to 5 p.m.
Allan Cameron, the founding executive director of the not-for-profit group Veterans Voices of Canada, said the event aims to get as many people as possible showing interest and appreciation for Canada’s military veterans.
Several veterans will be participating in the “Veterans Corner” portion of the event, where vets will be signing autographs and giving people a chance to ask about their experiences.
“Just tells us what they did for us,” Cameron said.
Cameron is interviewing veterans around Canada and documenting their stories. The May 19 event is to help raise funds to continue that work. Ten per cent of the proceeds will go to the Canadian Veterans Advocacy and the optional admission charge is non-perishable food items for the Sylvan Lake Food Bank.
“I’m trying to make it good for everyone,” Cameron said.
He said the veterans’ appreciation portion of the event was inspired by his belief that veterans should be honoured more often than just Remembrance Day.
Cameron is hoping many Central Alberta veterans come out for the day.
“The word is out there,” Cameron said of the event.
Innisfail resident George Braithwaite is one of the veterans who will be part of the Veterans Corner portion of the day.
“I think it’s going to be kind of a nice occasion,” Braithwaite said.
Braithwaite is originally from Red Deer and was part of the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
“I was second pilot and bomb aimer,” Braithwaite said. He was stationed in Europe, flying out of England, between 1943 and 1945. He was on missions that took him all over the continent.
Braitwaite volunteered for Cameron’s project when a friend and fellow vet from Lacombe told him about it. The Innisfail veteran has already completed an interview for Cameron’s documentation. He said his copy might be a family keepsake.
“I think it’s quite nice in a way,” Braithwaite said, though he noted that “people’s memories are pretty short” when it comes to remembering veterans’ contributions.
Cameron said his plan is to eventually have all the videos available for public viewing on his website, provide copies for the veterans who participated and for any Royal Canadian Legions that were involved.
In addition to the veterans being able to tell the public their stories, military memorabilia and military vehicles are going to be on display.
The Military Vehicle Preservation Association is going to have Second World War vehicles there and many people are bringing out their “support our troops” themed cars, trucks and motorcycles.
“There’s going to be a lot of vehicles there,” Cameron said. The Third Canadian Army Veterans Unit is sending members out for the day as well.
A barbecue will be on offer, as well as the silent auction. The Red Deer Legion Pipe Band will be attending for entertainment.
For more information on the event, contact Cameron at 403-887-7114. For more information on Veterans Voices of Canada’s work, check their website at www.vetvoicecan.org.