The local annual pinning of the first poppy took place Monday at the Cenotaph. From the left; Miss Trail Princess

The local annual pinning of the first poppy took place Monday at the Cenotaph. From the left; Miss Trail Princess

Greater Trail poppy campaign underway

Scarlet flower a symbol for those who fought in wars

The annual first poppy pinning took place at the Cenotaph on Monday, celebrating its 91st year as a symbolic tribute to those who have died in war.

Historically, the scarlet flower was a symbol of honor for precious lives lost in battle.

However, its significance has grown to symbolize the annual campaign to raise funds to support those who have lived through war, and are in need of help.

“Wearing the poppy to show remembrance is the most important part of the campaign,” said Rob Reilly, vice president of the Royal Canadian Legion Trail Branch #11.

On hand for Monday’s ceremonial pinning was Miss Trail Addison Oberg, who placed a pin on Steven Piccolo, a retired warrant officer who served for 23 years including deployments in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Egypt and Haiti.

Meanwhile Trail Princess Ashley Horrill pinned a poppy on May Batch, honorary president of the Royal Canadian Legion Trail Branch #11, who served in Royal Canadian Air Force from 1942 to 1945.

The funds generated from poppy donations are an important part of the services provided by the Legion. And despite the economic pinch felt by the majority of the public in the past few years, the support for the program hasn’t dropped.

“Donations are consistent every year,” said Reilly. “We did see a spike during the start of Afghanistan, but people have always been generous.”

In 2011, the local branch raised over $21,000 from its campaign.

The funds allowed the Legion to provide a new medication fridge for the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital’s (KBRH) Renal Unit and make a donation to the hospital’s digital mammography campaign.

Donations were also made to the Veteran’s Transition Program, a Legion program for returning soldiers to assist them in adjusting to civilian life.

“This year the branch also provided comforts for veterans and seniors in the local care facilities, and provided emergency services to three local veterans” said Reilly.

The poppies will be distributed Friday and Saturday.

Veterans, sea and air cadets, and volunteers will be in downtown Trail, Walmart, Canadian Tire, Waneta Mall and downtown Fruitvale, with their boxes of poppies.

The bright red emblem was first manufactured in Canada, in 1922 and the Royal Canadian Legion has run the poppy campaign since 1925.

Initially, assembling the lapel poppy was a means to provide a small income for the disabled service person and his/her family.

In 1996, the poppy production was awarded to a private company, but continues to be under the control of the Canadian Legion.

If you are interested in joining the Legion, call 364-1700 or stop by the branch at 2141 Columbia Avenue in Trail.