Park named for veteran Ed Laird officially unveiled

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Ed Laird, with the ANAVET Colour Party behind him, looks at the sign for Edwin Laird Park during the park sign unveiling ceremony on Friday.

The ceremony to unveil the fourth park named for a veteran in Prince Albert was a special one.

Friends, family members, and city officials gathered on Muzzy Drive Friday afternoon to celebrate 100-year-old veteran Ed Laird, and the newly named Ed Laird Park.

The ceremony is one of several the City has held as it continues the process of renaming local parks in honour of former veterans. The Ed Laird Park is third to receive its new name.

Laird, a longtime member of the Legion, was pleased to be present for the naming of his own park.

“Well, it’s a feeling you can’t express because it’s wonderful, something you’ll never forget, (and) never expected,” Laird said. “I can’t imagine what I did to earn this wonderful place.”

Before the unveiling, Laird’s grandkids played on the playground at Laird Park. Laird said that the park is well used.

“It’s wonderful,” he said.

“(It’s) such a terrific day, all unexpected. Turned out terrific. Big crowds, wonderful.”

Several generations of his family were in attendance, including daughter Geri Sauer, who thought the park was special.

“It’s touching,” she said. “I know that my dad’s four years in the Army had a formative effect on him. In his life, being a grandfather, dad and a Legion member, that really made an impact on us.”

She said that the fact the great-grandchildren were able to be at the park was special.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The family of Ed Laird surround the sign for Edwin Laid Park following the park unveiling on Friday afternoon.

“I’ve already had my dad up here for lunch one day. It’s a lasting piece for those of us that are moving away or coming back,” Sauer said.

The park opening is coinciding with a Laird family reunion which is how it ended up on Friday. The family received a call from Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick, who asked if there was a date that worked best for the family. Sauer said picking Friday was an easy decision.

“I thought it was perfect because the next generation would be here,” she said. “Some of them weren’t able to be here for the birthday party, so this is almost like another birthday party.”

On his 100th birthday Laird presented his Legion uniform and medals to be on display at the Prince Albert Historical Museum.

Sauer said that Laird often uses one word to describe himself: lucky. She said her father gets asked about his secret to success in life. Laird always tells people he’s been fortunate.

“He said every day in the army he’d wake up and think he was lucky to be alive,” Sauer explained. “I thought about that a lot. I think Lucky is a state of mind and he feels like he’s a lucky guy.”

Legion member Brenda Cripps read the Veteran’s Prayer to open the ceremony and the Act of Remembrance.

Emcee and Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick gave a brief history of Laird’s life that he researched through an interview with Laird.

Because the park is named after a veteran, there was an ANVAVET Colour Party in attendance.

Laird was born in 1923 and joined the workforce at 14-years-old. He joined the Army at Prince Albert originally he wanted to join the Air Force but did not meet all requirements. Laird trained in both Canada and England and served in the Signal Corps.

Laird took part in the liberation of Italy from Mussolini in 1943. He served as a gunner for the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Van Doos). During the Second World War, Laird served in England, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. In May, 1945 as a member of the Signal Corps Laird sent out the words “Cease Fire” three days before the end of World War II in Europe.

Granddaughter Christine Laird spoke on behalf of the family and thanked the City of Prince Albert. Cripps, who has been associated with Laird for several years though their association with the Legion remembered their time together.

When people were asked to speak, Rosaire Bernard led the crowd in a rendition on “O Canada”.

This is one of several parks to be named after veterans and Sauer thinks the initiative is excellent.

“It’s honourable for the city,” she said. “I appreciate how lucky we are that my dad is living and gets to witness this. I only wish that Tommy Settee could see that he had a park in his name, so good on the city. I think the initial thought was streets, but this is much more personal.”

After family members unveiled the monument Mayor Greg Dionne brought remarks on behalf of the city of Prince Albert. Ogrodnick, Coun. Dawn Kilmer, Coun. Darren Solomon and Dionne placed a Legion memento by the new sign.

There will be an unveiling of the three parks named after Don Cody, Myron Kowalsky and Eldon Lautermilch at the same time at some point in August.