Remembering those we have lost

By Shaye Anderson, MLA for Leduc - Beaumont

November is always an important month of reflection, and this year especially so. One hundred years ago, Canadian soldiers made their marks in battles like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele that have become synonymous with bravery and valour.

And those who gave their lives in defence of this country aren’t just strangers from some far off place. Their names can be read in cemeteries all across Leduc-Beaumont, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of those to whom we owe so much.

Henri Rosaire Magnan was from Beaumont, and I can’t even imagine how amazed he would be at how fast our once tiny community has grown. His parents, Honore and Alvertine Magnan, were from New Sarepta, and must have been so proud of the young man who went off to serve with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. He was killed in action on Jan. 20, 1945, and lies in the Ravenna War Cemetery in Italy next to 438 other Canadians. I wonder if he knew how close the end of the war was. He was 20 years old.

George Park Simpkins was a farmer by trade, and lived in Leduc when the First World War broke out. Born in Illinois in 1896, his parents George Levi and Mary Magdalene Simpkins moved the family to Leduc, maybe searching for a better life in the place many of us now call home. A Private with the Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) 8th Battalion, George was killed in action on September 8, 1916; with no known grave, his name is inscribed on the Vimy Memorial at Pas de Calais, France. He was 20 years old.

Athol Laurier Forster was a veteran of the First World War when he jumped into the fray at the start of the Second World War as a Sergeant in the Corps of Military Staff Clerks. Despite knowing what horrors may have awaited him, he left behind his wife, Bessie Pearl Forster, and his parents Victor and Margaret to serve his country a second time. He was killed in action on July 23, 1944 and is commemorated at the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England. He was 44 years old.

In my own family, we’re no strangers to the sacrifices soldiers have made. Both of my grandfathers, Ernest Joseph Anderson and John Gavin Turner, served in the Second World War.

We owe it to those who came before us to learn about their stories, to honour their sacrifices, and pay respect to their memories. I encourage all my constituents to put on a poppy and attend one of the Remembrance Day ceremonies in our region. In Leduc, a ceremony will take place this Saturday starting at 9:15 a.m. at the Leduc Recreation Centre. In Beaumont, you can pay your respects at 10:45 a.m. at Eaglemont Church.

“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Shaye Anderson is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Leduc-Beaumont constituency. If you have any questions or comments about this column or any other provincial government issues, please contact his constituency office at 780-929-3290 or by e-mail at: leduc.beaumont@assembly.

First published in the Leduc Representative on Nov. 10, 2017.