RE­FLEC­TIVE MO­MENTS

Le­gion man stood tall on the corner

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Joyce Wal­ter Joyce Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net

He was such a tall man, stand­ing there on the corner of Main and Fair­ford Streets, stal­wart against the bone-chill­ing wind and the fall­ing snow.

The man, in a Le­gion uni­form not quite hid­den by a win­ter over­coat, had a dish of red pop­pies around his neck and he greeted every­one who passed by his spot.

I’m not sure if I had a quar­ter or a dime clutched in my hand, but I know I had a coin that I was go­ing to give the man so I could re­ceive a poppy. The Le­gion man smiled as I ap­proached and bent down so I could put my coin in the slot and then pick out my poppy. My Mom helped me put it on my coat as my Dad talked to the Le­gion man, got two more pop­pies, and then gave him a salute as one vet­eran to an­other. It was Poppy Day in Moose Jaw and while I might not have fully un­der­stood the sig­nif­i­cance of the Le­gion man on the corner or why we would wear pop­pies un­til af­ter Nov. 11, it was taught in our fam­ily that we al­ways wore pop­pies and when pos­si­ble came into Moose Jaw to at­tend Re­mem­brance Day ser­vices.

In our ru­ral school the teacher made a special ef­fort to ob­serve Nov. 11 and to make sure the school was dec­o­rated with pop­pies and crosses. As a class from Grade 1-6 we would lis­ten to a ra­dio broad­cast supplied by the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion that talked about Canada’s role in the World Wars and then we would sing along with some of the songs made fa­mous by Vera Lynn.

But it wasn’t un­til that same teacher in­vited some veter­ans from the com­mu­nity to lay wreaths at our makeshift ceno­taph that I started to re­al­ize the im­por­tance of the day. My Dad and two other veter­ans at­tended and showed their medals, taught us when and how to salute, how to stand at at­ten­tion, and then re­cite In Flan­ders Fields to­gether.

Those child­hood mo­ments have taught the im­por­tance of wear­ing a poppy, supporting the poppy fund and re­mem­ber­ing the sac­ri­fices that were made in the name of peace.

There will al­ways be those who con­sider Nov. 11 noth­ing but a day off work, a day to sleep in. They sug­gest Nov. 11 is a glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of war — no, it is an ac­knowl­edge­ment that peace came from the wars, that so­ci­ety today en­joys free­doms that would not ex­ist if our sol­diers hadn’t fought for those rights and priv­i­leges. Schools in Moose Jaw and area are to be com­mended for hold­ing in-school ser­vices, teach­ing at an early age the re­spect due to veter­ans of world wars, peace­keep­ing mis­sions, and ex­tend­ing to the men and women who now serve in the Cana­dian mil­i­tary.

It is an emo­tional time as one ob­serves the Le­gion’s Nov. 11 cer­e­mony, watch­ing el­derly veter­ans proudly wear­ing their medals, but ag­ing each year. Those who have gone on be­fore still have a special place in our hearts and when we say “we will re­mem­ber them,” we will in­deed re­mem­ber my Dad, un­cle, cousin and long-time fam­ily friends who proudly served. The Le­gion man doesn’t seem quite as tall this year but he sym­bol­izes the strength and courage of the Le­gion man who sold me my poppy on that windy street corner so many years ago.

Thank you for your ser­vice.

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