Members of Callander’s Legion raised the poppy flag today to launch the 2021 poppy campaign.
Callander’s Mayor Rob Noon was there, as was the mayor of Bonfield, Randy McClaren. Pauline Rochefort, East Ferris’ mayor, was unable to attend.
The poppy campaign is the Legion’s largest fundraiser, and in 2018 they raised more than $15 million nationally.
“This is an important year,” said Legion Branch President Marc Picard, as this year’s campaign also marks “the hundredth anniversary of the poppy” as a Legion symbol, “so we’re celebrating that.”
The Legion provides a little history on their site pertaining to the poppy, explaining how Madame Anna Querin, inspired by John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields,” had the idea to distribute poppies on Armistice Day to raise money for veterans.
Her idea gained traction, and in July of 1921, the Great War Veterans Association (which in 1925 merged with other veteran groups to form the Canadian Legion), adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.
The tradition carries on, and now the poppy is turning up in places Madame Guerin could not have imagined.
For instance, to celebrate the centennial, The Immortal Poppy was created. This digital artwork will be for sale as a non-fungible token—which refers to a unique digital piece that belongs solely to the holder of the token.
The Immortal Poppy contains the names of 118,000 fallen Canadian soldiers.
“You let that sink in,” Callander’s Mayor Rob Noon said, “and you always go back to the sacrifices that they made to allow us to have what we have.”
This year also heralds the addition of “tap-tribute” boxes, Picard said, which allow people to donate with a tap of their debit card, credit cards, or phone.
“And all our funds stay local, and we assist veterans and their families in Callander, East Ferris, and Bonfield.”
This support comes in “a variety of ways,” Picard added, from providing hearing aids to veterans, helping to repair scooters, or offering funds to help install grab bars around their home.
“Things that Veteran’s Affairs can’t cover,” the local Legion offers help with, he said.
“It’s an honour to be here,” Mayor Noon said, emphasizing the significance of the centennial anniversary of the poppy, and the importance of always remembering “all the sacrifices the soldiers made.”
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca