By Philip Buisseret
Prior to the regular meeting on November 21st, 2019 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6 Redcliff, long-time local resident Dennis Rathwell was the surprised recipient of the Legion’s second highest award the “Meritorious Service Medal” (MSM).
The MSM is the highest award that can be granted to life, ordinary or associate members of the Royal Canadian Legion.
The nomination is based on the activities of the individual and must exceed the standard that is expected of a member.
There is special care taken to ensure the most deserving person is recommended for the medal.
Rathwell has lived in Redcliff for 72 years and has been active in the Legion for 50 years and has served in many different roles including president for four terms.
“At one point I almost lived here,”said Rathwell.
“I was here from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day, but I really enjoyed it, now I have scaled back a bit and mainly participate in organizing the Poppy Fund Campaign and serve on some committees within the branch.”
Rathwell is a very humble man.
“ It’s all about the veterans, that’s why I have been so involved, they gave us so much, our freedom, everything that we enjoy, I do it for them not myself , not to receive any kind of award, although its nice to receive recognition, he said.”Normally the Branch has a special evening set aside for awards ceremonies, and is much anticipated by the membership, but Rathwell wanted to have none of that.
“Lets just do it before the regular meeting and get it over with “said Rathwell.
Karen Shaw, the past vice president of the Alberta/NWT Command was on hand to present the award to Rathwell and spoke glowingly of his selfless dedication and commitment to the branch and his respect for the veterans.
“We only have five veterans left alive in our branch” said Rathwell.
“So we have to keep going for them and all the others who have gone before them, it’s getting tough for our branch, the membership is holding steady at 350 and may even be up a little, but its such a big building that takes a lot of finances to maintain. Unexpected things happen like a rooftop heater needs attention or one of the garage doors quit the other day. We have a great executive that is trying new things with some success, but its not easy” The branch is planning a “British New Years” celebration this year.
“We just have to keep going, and hope that the community continues to supports us”.