Poppy’s meaning not lost on most Canadians

The Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign has begun.

For a group of Kelowna boys handing out the red lapel pins Tuesday, the symbol is a reminder of the sacrifice Canadian soldiers made for our country.

“I’m proud of doing it,” Max Finley said as he handed out poppies.

Finley was one of several members of the PeeWee Tier 1 Rockets taking donations for poppies outside the Kelowna Superstore.

“It shows the symbol of what the soldiers did for us to keep us safe,” Aiden Bruce said.

For one of the few World War II veterans left in the Okanagan, the poppy is a reminder of not only the lives lost fighting for Canada during the war but that there are fewer people who still remember the sacrifices first-hand.

“If there’s a veteran or veterans relative in hospital, they get visits through our poppy campaign,” George Barr said.

Barr began his 35-year career in Canada’s military as a tank gunner in 1943.

“You lived in a tank. You slept in a tank. You fought in a tank. You ate in a tank,” said Barr. “That was it. You were a tanker. Our job was to support the infantry.”

Where there used to be 61 Korean War veterans living in Kelowna, Barr said there are now six.

“We just lost one six days ago and we’re about to lose two more,” he said.

Barr said the visits he makes to his counterparts are beginning to take a toll on him.

“I know I visited the hospital yesterday and I said to myself, ‘I don’t think I’m going to go back again,’” he said. “I like to remember them as I knew them.”

Donations collected during the Poppy Campaign are held in trust at the branch level to directly support veterans and their families within their community and to help ensure Canadians “never forget,” according to the Royal Canadian Legion campaign organizers.

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