60 years and counting
Branch 23 Royal Canadian Legion launches 60th anniversary
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 Carbonear kicked off its 60th anniversary during this year’s annual Remembrance Day banquet.
Some 140 Legionnaires and guests turned out at the club Nov. 13 to help launch the event.
On Nov. 15, 1950, 21 ex-servicemen from the area met on the same Bannerman Street site, where the club is located today.
With a current membership of 147, Carbonear is an active branch, which serves the north shore of Conception Bay to Bay de Verde and, since the closure of Branch 6 in New Perlican, the south shore of Trinity Bay to Heart’s Content.
Aside from helping area veterans and their widows, branch members serve on the board of Charwood Legion Manor. The branch supports the area’s youth, providing scholarships and making its hall available to the town’s Girl Guide Movement. They also sponsor 589 Air Cadet Squadron.
Branch president Mike Butt told the audience, whenever they are called upon to do so, “ we will sponsor fundraisers for individuals in need of assistance.”
Last year, Butt noted they donated to some 25 groups and organizations.
Pointing out that the veterans’ numbers are dwindling, Butt noted in the two years he has been president of the branch, he has had the sad duty to attend the funerals of five deceased veterans.
“ There are only about 12-14 veterans left in the branch,” he observed.
Referring to those who paid the supreme sacrifice, he suggested, “if we don’t remember them, their lives will have been given in vain.”
He asked each member of his audience to turn and thank a veteran for their service.
Stressing the importance of encouraging youth to remember the veterans’ contribution to peace, he asked, “if we don’t teach these young people to remember, who will?”
He said the Legion was pleased to be able to host an exhibit by Alistair Rice, called The Poppy and the Caribou, during Remembrance Week.
The exhibit attracted hundreds of school children, “ who were amazed to see some of their own surnames on the wall,” Butt said.
Rice, who was guest speaker for the event, spoke for about 30 minutes on the impact visiting the war cemeteries of Europe, where thousands of fallen soldiers are buried, has had on his life.
Reminding his audience we are nearing the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Rice suggested their sacrifice must never be forgotten.
As far as remembering them is concerned, he concluded, “after all is said and done, the choice rests with each one of us.”
Mayor Sam Slade called the branch’s 60th anniversary, “a significant milestone which should be celebrated.”
Slade commended the Legion for this year’s Remembrance Day parade, which was “ the largest parade I’ve seen in many years.” He was especially encouraged to see the number of youth who turned out for this year’s event.
The Remembrance Week events were the first of a year-long series of events the branch plans to hold to mark their 60th anniversary.
A table set during the Royal Canadian Legion’s Remembrance Day banquet remained empty during the event. Branch 23 President Mike Butt (at podium) explained the table was set in honour of a missing comrade. District 2 Commander Berkley Lawrence and his wife, Sarah, secretary of Branch 23 were among the head table guests.
Alistair Rice (right), who organized an exhibit called the Poppy and The Caribou, accepts a gift from Branch 23 President Mike Butt. Rice was also guest speaker for the branch’s Remembrance Day banquet held Nov. 13