Today is the first day of the annual "Poppy Campaign" by the Royal Canadian Legion to raise fund for veterans services. Shown is the Canadian poppy on top with a British poppy beneath for comparison. (RCI-Marie-Claude Simard)

Remembrance- Poppy Campaign begins

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Remembering sacrifice of war

Every year on the last Friday of October the Royal Canadian Legion begins its annual poppy campaign. The two week campaign leads up to November 11, the day of remembrance which marks the coming into force of the Armistice ending the First World War, at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Centennial year

This year is especially important as it will mark the 100th anniversary of that event.

It was also the first full year of opening for the new Hill 70 memorial near Lens on the last piece of land France has donated for a WWI memorial. This has become the last major memorial in Europe to the First World War and probably the last anywhere else. Hill 70 was the site of another major all-Canadian victory in 1917 which helped to build Canada’s reputation as the elite Allied force. Unlike other memorials, the landscaped grounds with wi-fi historical information, dominated by a large and stately obelisk, were entirely financed by millions of dollars of private donations by Canadian philanthropists along with an equal amount of volunteered time and expertise by a dedicated number of individuals and companies.

The bright red artificial poppies are distributed by the Legion for donations, funds which are used to support Legion activities and a variety of social and health support initiatives for veterans.

The poppy as the symbol of remembrance is now used in several Commonwealth countries.  It was inspired by the poem of Dr John McCrae a field surgeon written in the midst of war.

In Canada, some 3 million of the special commemorative “poppy” $2 general circulation coins have been struck for the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War (Royal Canadian Mint)

While the event has often focused on the two World Wars, even Korean War veterans are ageing and a great many have passed on as Canada has many veterans now of other conflicts including Bosnia, Afghanistan, and peacekeeping around the world, men and women whose duty, courage, and sacrifice must also not be forgotten

A shell bursts in the distance as a Canadian soldier inspects what appears to be an overrun German gun pit near Hill 70. The partially uncovered wheel and trail of what might be a 21-cm howitzer can be seen, with the wheel of what might be a limber on the far side of the pit. The site has been covered by the Germans with netting likely to conceal it from Allied spotter planes (Canadian War Museum 19920085-814)

In Flanders Fields- (music from John McDermott album- recited by the late Cliff Chadderton- WWII vet of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, and later CEO for many years of the Royal Canadian Legion- reading starts at about 2;54)

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