The poppy campaign officially started on Oct. 27 but Scott Rathy, president of the 100 Mile House Royal Canadian Legion Branch and Mayor Mitch Campsall got together on Oct. 26 to celebrate the beginning of this year’s drive with Rathy pinning the first poppy onto the mayor.
“We do our best to help those less fortunate, especially our veterans,” said Rathy, who has been with the 100 Mile branch for 16 years but joined the organization when he was 19, thirty-nine years ago. “This is our Christmas coming up. It’s the biggest day we have in our year.”
Rathy said the first thing he did when he got into 100 Mile House was join the Legion because he “knew that’s where all the good people were.”
According to the Royal Canadian Legion website, the poppy campaign originated when a woman from France, Madame Guerin visited the U.S. in 1920. She started to make and sell poppies to raise funds for children back in France, which was left devastated by the First World War.
The Poppy was first popularized in the imagination of Canadians by John McCrae, a medical officer serving in Belgium and penned the poem, In Flanders Fields, after the death and funeral of his friend, Alexis Helmer during the Second Battle of Ypres. It is estimated by the Canadian Encyclopedia more than 6,500 Canadians were either killed, wounded or captured.
Campsall’s family has a storied history with the Canadian family. His father and two uncles served with the Canadian Armed Forces. His wife’s family also had a large contingent of family members serving within the military. According to him, two of her family members did not come back and two others came home in rough shape.
“It’s always remembering these people sacrificed their lives and they put more into our community than they really think because reality is we wouldn’t have a community.”
The Legion will be doing its annual parade and ceremony, as well as an open house at the branch with beverages and food.
“It’s also great to honour the ones that come back for the ceremonies as well, I mean, we have to thank them for their services and what they do for us every day so we can carry on doing what we do in our normal lives and they’re out there fighting,” said Campsall.