It might seem like a small gesture compared the sacrifices made by soldiers, but the annual Take a Vet to Dinner event is appreciated by the men and women who served their country.
“It brings up a lot of old memories. It’s beautiful,” said Harold Rowden, who has been to most of the dinners in Orillia.
During the Second World War, Rowden was a dispatch rider with the 13th Field Regiment. He and four of his five brothers served in the war.
“We all came home,” he said.
It’s important to acknowledge veterans and remember the conflicts more than once a year on Remembrance Day, Rowden said, noting Take a Vet to Dinner is another way to raise awareness.
“The whole world should know that these wars have got to stop. We have a beautiful country and we want to keep it that way,” he said.
Like Rowden, Rick Purcell has attended most of the events. He is now the chair of the committee, which is preparing for this year’s 15th annual dinner that will take place Oct. 26 at the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre.
“The veterans gave up a lot for us,” Purcell said. “If we can do something to appreciate them for what they’ve done, we should. It’s a great cause.”
Earlier this year, local high-school students travelled to Europe to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Some of them will be at the Oct. 26 event to share their experiences.
“It’s great that the high schools are taking this very seriously,” Purcell said.
The veterans in attendance will also get to interact with young members of the Air Cadets, who will be greeting them at the door, hanging up their coats and joining them for dinner.
“It’s very important for young people to be aware of what veterans went through,” Purcell said.
The veterans receive dinner at no cost. The cost for those taking them to dinner is $35.
Purcell encourages people to bring veterans, saying it’s “a great way to respect them.”
For tickets or more information, call Sandy Monk at 705-325-6987 or the Legion at 705-325-8442.