The red poppies serve more than a reminder of the sacrifices veterans have given in the past wars throughout the world. Sparwood Legion President Stan Kilford pinned a poppy on Mayor Lois Halko on Oct. 29 to kick off the Poppy Campaign in Sparwood. Traditionally the campaign starts after the Governor General has been pinned with a poppy in Ottawa.
The poppy campaign is a fundraiser by selling wreaths and crosses as well as poppies to businesses and the public. Businesses can purchase a wreath to be laid at the cenotaph on Nov. 11 during the Remembrance Day ceremony.
Last year $9000 was raised for local veterans. There are five veterans in Sparwood, two of which reside at Lilac Terrace. Veterans are RCMP, Cadets (Armed forces and army and veterans of WW l and ll, and the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.
One of the services supported by the poppy campaign is the veterans transition program in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia (UBC) which helps deal with post traumatic stress.
“When a veteran returns, the first six months is referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ period,” said Kilback. “After one year, the impact of their experience begins to set in and can be traumatic. It is $60,000 for a veteran to go to the one to two month session where they can speak with psychologists and other professionals.”
The Legion also responds to local charity requests supporting organizations such as the Sparwood Old Age Pensioners, Lilac terrace and the Air Cadets.
The Legion is still looking for more volunteers to serve on the not for profit executive. “The Legion relies on the people,” said Kilback. “We’re holding the next elections on the second Wednesday in December. Before then to be up for election, a nominee must have attended two general meetings and be a good member in standing.”
Poppies are a solid reminder, lest we forget.