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Legion begins annual poppy campaign

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 79 Simcoe poppy chairman John Charleau presents Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke with the first poppy of 2017 during Tuesday's council meeting in Simcoe. The area's poppy campaign will kick off Friday and run until Remembrance Day. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 79 Simcoe poppy chairman John Charleau presents Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke with the first poppy of 2017 during Tuesday's council meeting in Simcoe. The area's poppy campaign will kick off Friday and run until Remembrance Day. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

SIMCOE  - 

The year 2017 carries added significance for Canadians like John Charleau.

As a veteran and Simcoe Legion Poppy Campaign chair, Charleau told Norfolk County Council exactly why on Tuesday.

“It's a great honour to be here today representing Branch 79, Simcoe of the Royal Canadian Legion,” he said. “This is a milestone year for Canada, I will not say we celebrate, but we do remember that 100 years ago our brave soldiers fought their way into history in such battles as Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.”

Charleau reminded council the Halifax Explosion, which claimed the lives of almost 2000 people and injured about 9,000, also took place a century ago.

“With painful memories of 100 years ago, we still stand proud and celebrate 150 years as a nation called Canada,” he said.

As is tradition, the poppy chair in regions across Canada pins the first poppy on the local leader, as Charleau did with Mayor Charlie Luke. The campaign runs on the last Friday of each October (this year's falling on Oct. 27) until Nov. 11. Donations can be made at a variety of businesses around town in exchange for a poppy.

“Canadians donate money to support the services we provide and to clearly show their recognition to the debt owed to so many Canadians who gave their lives for our freedom,” Charleau said. “The poppy has stood as a symbol of remembrance - our visual pledge to never forget those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations.”

The funding goes towards assisting Canadians of all ages, Charleau pointed out. For instance, Branch 79 has donated north of $100,000 through the years to the Norfolk General Hospital for both research and medical equipment.

The past 12 months, the branch focused on making its building wheelchair accessible for seniors and handicapped members of the community with the installation of electronic doors.

The legion has also long supported our soldiers in need of a hand after returning from battle.

“All across the nation legions are reaching out to homeless veterans and those with hidden injuries such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Charleau said. “With the help of our communities, we can serve them better.”

jrobinson@postmedia.com