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History of the Poppy

Each November, Poppies bloom on the lapels and collars of millions of Canadians. The significance of the Poppy can be traced back to the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, over 110 years before being adopted in Canada. Records from that time indicate how thick Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France. Fields that had been barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. During the tremendous bombardments of the war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing the “popaver rhoeas” to thrive. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the Poppy began to disappear again.

The person who first introduced the Poppy to Canada and the Commonwealth was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War. John McCrae penned the Poem “In Flanders Fields” on a scrap of paper in May, 1915 on the day following the death of a fellow soldier. Little did he know then that those 13 lines would become enshrined in the hearts and minds of all who would wear them. McCrae’s poem was published in Punch Magazine in December of that same year, and the poem later served as inspiration three years later for Moina Michael, an American teacher. Moina Michael made a pledge to always wear a Poppy as a sign of Remembrance.

During a visit to the United States in 1920, a French woman named Madame Guerin learned of the custom. Madame Guerin decided to make and sell poppies to raise money for children in war-torn areas of France. The Great War Veteran’s Association in Canada (our predecessor) officially adopted the poppy as its Flower of Remembrance on July 5, 1921.

Today, the Poppy is worn each year during the Remembrance period to honour Canada’s Fallen. The Legion also encourages the wearing of a Poppy for the funeral of a Veteran and for any commemorative event honouring Fallen Veterans. It is not inappropriate to wear a Poppy during other times to commemorate Fallen Veterans and it is an individual choice to do so, as long as it’s worn appropriately.

Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear the Legion’s lapel Poppy each November, the little red flower has never died, and the memories of those who fell in battle remain strong.

In Flanders Fields

legion-history-of-the-poppy-wbg-resized

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
~ May 3, 1915

(As published in Punch Magazine, December 8, 1915)

 

Article from The Royal Canadian Legion

Annual Legion Golf Tournament Registration

West Smoky Legion #244The West Smoky Legion’s 4th annual Golf Tournament is fast approaching. September 17th the organization is hosting a 4 Ball, Best Ball tournament for Legion members and friends.

The annual tournament encourages members to have fun together. “We work hard over the year raising money and planning events for the community, this is one way we give back to our volunteers”, says organizer Eleanor Ford. Of course the event is not limited to current members, the Legion encourages other people to join the society as well and put in a team.

This years tournament is at the Gunby Ranch Golf Course in DeBolt where they prepare a fabulous steak supper for players.  A five dollar 50/50 raffle for a  Gunby Ranch golf membership will be part of the entertainment this year as well as prizes at each hole including; longest drive for both men and ladies, ball in the sand, and closest to the pin.

Once the Golf Tournament wraps up, members of the Legion will turn their focus back to the community. A joint initiative with the Bezanson Ag Society, the Golden Leaf Dine and Dance is a night full of fun laughter and dancing that you won’t want to miss! Planning begins in September of each year.

The West Smoky Legion #244 is also known for Remembrance Day events at the Bezanson School. October and November members prepare for the annual poppy drive, organizing Remembrance Day activities and also judge the wonderful posters, stories and poems that the school children submit.

If you are interested in playing in this years golf tournament and membership interests you this year, please call Eleanor Ford 780-512-0990 or Jim Robertson 780-814-0010 to register.

Swimming Success for Bezanson Kids

West Smoky Legion #244It’s been over 55 years that the West Smoky Legion #244 has been dedicated to sending Bezanson youth for swimming lessons.

“It’s a life skill” says Legion President Bruce Fenton, “swimming lessons have always been an important part of the community services we offer”.

Many of the legions active members attended these same sponsored lessons in their youth and now have children and grandchildren of their own partaking.

“The kids absolutely LOVE it!” says organizer Renee Laverick. “We have kids ranging from 5 years old right up to 15. Seventy three kids in total this year!”

The funding provided by the West Smoky Legion #244 is a huge contribution to the success of the program that ran for 6 days over the last two weeks. Covering 62% of the lesson costs as well as the transport to the Eastlink Centre makes this program super friendly to families.

Of course the volunteers are an instrumental part of the programs success as well. “A tremendous thank-you to all that come to help out. We had 19 Moms helping out this year supervising in the stands, change rooms, on the pool deck and the bus – we really couldn’t run this program without them” says Laverick.

With continued support from the community through fundraising events like the Golden Leaf Dine & Dance (Nov), the Legion is hoping to extend lessons to include life guard training to children 13 years and older in 2017. A minimum of 4 students will be required to run these classes. Students with interest in this program next summer should contact Renee.

If you are interested in helping with youth activities in our community, fundraising or becoming a member of the West Smoky Legion #244 contact us, we would love to have you on board!