Veteran Roy Foster carefully explained to the Gr. 7 Queen Elizabeth Junior High School student, Alyia Parmar that, “the Poppy is to be pinned on the Mayor’s lapel above all other pins”. Alyia, had been selected to represent the ‘Students of Wetaskiwin’, and pinned the first Poppy on Mayor Bill Elliott to open the Poppy Campaign in Wetaskiwin. Alyia looked quite at home in the City Council Chambers and proudly stated, “I was happy to be chosen to pin the Poppy on the Mayor. It means a lot to me as I am proud to be Canadian and to remember our veterans”. The Poppy is a symbol of Remembrance.
Veteran Foster representing the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86 and Alyia carefully monitored Mayor Elliott’s signing of the proclamation officially opening the annual Poppy Campaign, the Canada wide Two Minute Wave of Silence, and the opening of Remembrance Week for the City of Wetaskiwin, and surrounding area. Proceeds from the Poppies are used to assist ex-service personnel and their dependents who are in need with low rental housing and care facilities, medical appliances and medical research, drop-in centres, meals-on-wheels, transportation and other needs. "The Poppy Fund also supports all the Cash Prizes that are donated to School Student Winners who participate throughout Canada".This amounts to many Thousands of Dollars.
Aliya's First Place Regional Winning entry into the Royal Canadian Legion's 2011 Colored Poster Contest,while in Grade 06,and attending Parkdale School at that time won her the Honor of launching Remembrance Week. For many years, The Royal Canadian Legion has sponsored the Annual Literary and Poster Contest that is open to all Canadian school children. The youths that participate in the contest assist the Legion in one of their primary goals – fostering the tradition of Remembrance among Canadians.
Initial judging takes place at the community level by volunteers at local Legion branches and the winning entries progress to judging at the Provincial level. The winning entries at this level are forwarded to Ottawa where they are judged and the National winners declared. The names and work of all the National winners are published. The purpose of the contest is to foster a tradition of remembrance among students across the country.
The contest is divided into four categories:
• Primary (Poster Contest only) – grades 1,2 and 3;
• Junior – grades 4, 5 and 6;
• Intermediate – grades 7, 8 and 9; and
• Senior – grades 10, 11, and 12.
Veteran Foster provided some sobering stats to remind us of the importance of remembering those men and women who by sea, by land, and in the air, laid down their lives so that we may live in peace.
WWI – 626,736 Canadians served. 66,573 died
WWII – 1,031,902 male and 49,963 female Canadians served. 44,927 died and 53,145 were wounded
Korea – 26,791 Canadians served. 516 died and 1558 were wounded
Gulf War – 3837 male and 237 female Canadians served. No casualties
25,000 Canadian troops that have rotated through Afghanistan since 2002. 158 deaths have been reported as of October 31st, 2011.
Remembrance Day Service in Wetaskiwin
Each year, Wetaskiwin and District honors and remembers. The service will be held at the Wetaskiwin Drill Hall on Sunday, November 11th at 10:30 am sharp. It is expected that more than 80 wreaths will be placed ‘in remembrance’ by community organizations and groups to recognize the achievements of our Veterans and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Facts about Remembrance Day
• Remembrance Day commemorates Canadians who died in service to Canada from the South African War to current missions. It is held every November 11.
• The first Remembrance Day was conducted in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth. Originally called Armistice Day, it commemorated the end of the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
• From 1923 to 1931, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. Thanksgiving was also celebrated on this day.
• In 1931, MP Allan Neill introduced a bill to hold Armistice Day on a fixed day – November 11. During the bill's introduction, it was decided the word "Remembrance" would be used instead of "Armistice." The bill passed and Remembrance Day was first conducted on November 11, 1931. Thanksgiving Day was moved to October 12 that year.
• The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion to raise money for Veterans.