Pastor Ross Helgeton gave a brief message during the Remembrance Day service held last year at Sharpe’s Memorial Park. Independent file photo

Pastor Ross Helgeton gave a brief message during the Remembrance Day service held last year at Sharpe’s Memorial Park. Independent file photo

Remembrance Day services set to be held at Sharpe’s Memorial Park

Poppies are also available at many businesses and organizations around town

Volunteers with the Stettler Royal Canadian Legion Branch #59 are preparing to observe Remembrance Day at Sharpe’s Memorial Park.

“Our own branch here will be doing a service at Sharpe’s Memorial Park,” said Rosalind LaRose, who sits as the first vice president for Alberta/Northwest Territories Royal Canadian Legion Command.

The service is set to start at 10:45 a.m. with the two minutes’ silence to begin at 11 a.m.

LaRose said that 200 people are permitted to gather outdoors for the service, according to AHS. That includes all the proper precautions such as distancing being followed as well, she added.

“It will very much be the same as last year. And we did get all of our poppy boxes out this past Friday, so the poppy campaign is up and running,” she said, adding that this year is particularly special as it marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy.

According to the Canadian Legion, “Madame Anna Guérin, later christened ‘The Poppy Lady from France’, inspired by John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, had an idea: to adopt the distribution of the poppy on Armistice Day as a way to raise money for veterans’ needs and to remember those who had given their lives during the First World War.

“In July of 1921 the Great War Veterans Association (which in 1925 would unify with other veteran groups to form the Canadian Legion) adopted the poppy as the flower of Remembrance. Since then, the Legion and its members have upheld this tradition of remembrance.”

Meanwhile, at this year’s service, the only wreaths that will be laid during the program include those of government, the Legion and local municipalities.

However, families can still purchase wreaths in memory of loved ones, and lay them at the cenotaph before or after the service.

The Stettler Legion branch will be open Nov 8-10 from 1 to 4 p.m. for people to purchase wreaths, purchase memberships or renew them.

“It’s been a passion for basically my whole life,” said LaRose of Remembrance Day. “I joined the Legion in 1974, so I’ve been a long-term member. It’s about the care of veterans – and even though we don’t see a lot of need in our own community, throughout the province (there is need). And that’s where every cent from the poppy campaign goes.

“Every person who buys a membership or a poppy – each and every one of those people are helping a veteran. That’s our main purpose,” she said. “Our mission is ‘veterans first’.

“They gave for us, so it’s been important for myself and my husband to give back.”

Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization.

The non-profit organization has a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S. and Europe, according to the Legion web site.

There are close to 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches.

Locally, for more information, call Stephen LaRose, president of Legion Branch #59 at 403-323-0743 or the Legion office at 403-742-2404.