On Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m., The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 469 is inviting every resident of Elmira and the surrounding area to join them in a parade and commemoration service for Remembrance Day 2015.
It’s been 70 years since the end of the Second World War, while the Great War was in its second year a century ago. The sacrifices of those who served then and the contributions of veterans since make each year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies equally important, says Rae Ann Bauman of the Elmira Legion.
“(Veterans) are the reason we have the freedoms we have today,” she said from an office overflowing with bright red felt poppies. “This area sent a lot of men and women overseas. Our honour roll is one of the largest in this area. The men and women that served are the ones that helped bring us to where we are today, so (they) shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Bauman says it is also important to remember that the day set aside to honour veterans isn’t just about those who served in the World Wars.
“We actually have a member who sits on our executive that served in Afghanistan,” she said. “He is a veteran. They are going through the exact same thing that men and women went through back then.”The Sunday afternoon ceremony begins at Branch 469 on First Street in Elmira at 2:30 p.m. sharp. Legion members, guests, cadets, Girl Guides, Scouts, police services, fire services, the mayor, and more will parade towards Arthur Street and make their way to the cenotaph. There, the ceremony will include a prayer from a chaplain, laying of the wreaths, and the reading of the honour roll. Bill Strauss, former Woolwich mayor and chair of Branch 469’s Poppy Campaign, will call the names aloud.
In preparation for the ceremony on Nov. 8, Strauss and his team have been working hard to get 37,000 poppies attached to as many jackets, coats and sweaters as possible, spreading veteran awareness. This year, as well as the usual red felt poppies on pins, the legion is also handing out rubber bracelets with Lest We Forget written on them – something new for this year.
Last year’s poppy campaign raised more than $20,000 in donations and memorial wreath purchases, with money going to different community groups and to support veterans at the Legion.
“We had a great year last year,” he said. “We had a fabulous year.”
Boxes of poppies can be found at local businesses around Elmira and from volunteers with poppy carriers around town until they run out.
The Remembrance Day parade starts at 2:30 p.m. with the public ceremony at the cenotaph at Arthur Street and Memorial Avenue at 3 p.m.