AMHERST – Captain Maralyn Ralph’s voice on the phone was a little choked.
“Overwhelming…I get overwhelmed right now,” said the cadet instructor.
Just talking about the honour bestowed on her Feb. 20 is enough to evoke emotion. Ralph was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal on that day in Sydney.
“It (was) and honour to be standing next to my peers…,” she said.
Six cadet officers and one cadet were recipients. Ralph is one of just 100 recipients of the medal out of about 3,000 cadet leaders across the country.
It’s a fitting end to her time with cadets. Ralph is a cadet instructor with 154 Amherst Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. She turns 55 in August, which means she’ll be retiring.
“Not that I want to,” said Ralph.
The captain has been involved with the Department of Defense-funded youth organization for a quarter century. She had no military training – “none whatsoever” – when she began helping with administration in 1988. Her cadets taught her to march.
In the decades since, there have been courses and summer camps, and flying scholarships to organize.
She was nominated for the medal by her cadets and superior officers. Overwhelming was how she described the feeling of having the medal pinned to her jacket. A prsee release about the event said she was being recognized ”for her years of dedicated service and outstanding leadership as the commanding officer of several air cadet squadrons.”
“Additionally, Capt. Ralph was praised for her involvement in planning and hosting several band seminars,” it further said, “which have allowed hundreds of cadets to expand their exposure to music.”
Ralph said she’d never dreamt of receiving an award like the jubilee medal. Her reaction when she was notified says it all.