Mersey Legion poppy sales, Remembrance Day will look different this year

·2 min read

The Royal Canadian Legion is among the many groups and organizations forced to change how they operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which means this year will see a different sort of poppy campaign and Remembrance Day celebration.

The beginning of the poppy campaign begins on October 29. Liverpool’s Royal Canadian Legion Mersey Branch #38, for one, will not be having its veterans or members selling poppies at various locations.

“This year, we are not allowed to personally sell poppies anywhere,” explained Louis J. Landry, the legion’s poppy chair. “We are only allowed to drop off the boxes.” According to Landry, up to 30 per cent fewer places have been willing to participate with the campaign on that basis.

Typically, the legion would raise approximately $20,000 in Queens County through the sales of poppies and wreaths, with the funds distributed to veterans or their families in need.

Landry said he hoped people would continue to support this cause and reminded that the legion accepts donations as well.

Meanwhile, Remembrance Day services can be expected to be different this year as well.

“There are a number of restrictions on us this year coming from the Nova Scotia command. The first is that we are not allowed to have any indoor or outdoor public ceremonies,” Landry said. “We can have it outdoors, but it has to be considered private, and it is by invitation only and less than 50 people. They must also all wear masks.”

The Mersey Branch hosts the Liverpool legion ceremony, as well as ceremonies in Brooklyn (November 8), Liverpool and Milton (November 11). They too will be be outdoors and by invitation only with a maximum of 50 people in attendance.

Wreath laying by veterans and legion members will continue. Those wishing to lay a wreath can do so before 10:30 a.m. on the day of or anytime following the event.

The Liverpool ceremony, held at the cenotaph by the Astor Theatre, is scheduled to begin with two minutes of silence. It will be live-streamed on the legion’s RCL #38 Facebook page for those unable to attend. Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force – Greenwood base – are set to do a fly-over around 11 a.m.

Traditionally, the first part of the service has been held indoors in the Astor Theatre, before everyone moves outside for the laying of the wreaths and the conclusion of the ceremonies.

Restrictions in place also mean that there will be no Remembrance Day banquet or awards ceremonies that are normally held following the Liverpool service.

“These restrictions are making it very difficult for veterans especially on Remembrance Day, not being able to gather with their brothers and sisters and remember,” said Landry.

The health restrictions also mean that the legion members are unable to attend schools' Remembrance Day services.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin