Red poppies on the lapels of jackets are a sign of Remembrance Day. For Elmira and Linwood, there is an extra reminder in the form of the Elmira Legion’s activities on the Sunday prior to November 11.
For years the local legion has chosen the earlier commemoration for a variety of reasons, including giving other Legions in the area a chance to participate in either the Elmira or Linwood parades.
“We have had the same plan for quite some time,” said Sandra Pember, president of the Elmira Legion. “People are use to us having the Remembrance Day ceremony the weekend before November 11. There are some that are still surprised that we hold it before but there are so many things that happen. It is helpful for us as we can invite other legions to come to us and we can reciprocate on the 11th and it is much easier to get a band.”
The Legions in Kitchener, Waterloo, Elora and Drayton all hold their parades on November 11.Holding the parade the weekend before also comes with extra support in the form of Scouts and Girl Guides as they are available to come and participate on the weekend.
Part of the focus of the event is to remember those lost in wars and those who have died after coming home, said Pember.
“We do have fewer Second World War veterans and few Korean War veterans, but we do have a few more recent veterans from Afghanistan that want to be a part of this service and there is no way that this ceremony would ever stop happening.”
Weather always plays a factor in the turnout, with less support showing up in the rain than sun. This weekend looks to be sunny with periods of cloud and temperatures reaching five degrees in the afternoon, according to Environment Canada.
“It needs to be at least dry, that is our main concern, we can cope with cold and wind, but it has to be dry,” she said.
The better the weather the more people turn out and the easier it is on those marching in the parade, said Pember. If the weather is not suitable they would have to hold the service inside the Legion hall.
“We have been fortunate enough not to have had to hold it inside yet and hopefully we don’t have to do that this weekend.”
Last weekend the rededication of the memorial solider took place at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. The original marble soldier had been located at the Elmira cenotaph until 2009. The 90-year-old statue was removed because of damage that occurred over time, by weather and vandalism.
“We were very fortunate to have someone refurbish him and he is now in a really good spot in the arena,” said Pember.
Members of the Elmira Legion were consulted about the new location for the statue with the WMC chosen because it can still be viewed by the public, while adding more meaning to the centre’s name.
The Linwood Remembrance Day parade starts at 1:15 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday) at the Linwood Community Centre and is followed by the Elmira parade starting at 2:30 p.m. at the Legion located on First Street, following a route to the cenotaph across from Gore Park, with the service beginning at 3 p.m.