Red Deer historian Michael Dawe will be one of 11 Western Canadians to receive the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation in Calgary on Tuesday.
Dawe’s numerous contributions to preserving war history and public education include authoring books and articles about Alberta’s and Canada’s participation in war, and giving presentations to local nursing homes, schools and Red Deer and District Museum.
He is also a frequent guest speaker at the Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Vimy Banquet and frequently receives requests for information from the public and veterans.
Dawe said his interest in the wars began at home over 50 years ago.
“I grew up hearing stories of the military,” Dawe said.
“My grandfather was a veteran of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. My great-uncle Sam was a stretcher bearer in the First World War. My father was a bombing instructor in the Second World War.”
Those are just some of his relatives and friends who risked their lives and Dawe said he wants people to understand the sacrifices soldiers made during the wars.
“My volunteerism is going on committees or fundraising projects. I never had to have the volunteer experience where I’m literally risking my life and those people did.
“I feel very honoured to have known those people.”
At the battle of Passchendaele, 20,000 Canadians went in and there was a 75 per cent casualty rate, he said.
“To me it would be bothersome if we ever forget there was such a thing.”
Dawe, who will receive his award from Veteran Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, said he never expected the call notifying him of the recognition heading his way.
The commendation is given to people who have contributed to the care and well-being of veterans and the remembrance of their contributions, sacrifices and achievements.
“I was struck speechless, which is a very rare event in my life,” he said with a laugh.