The Royal Canadian Legion in Slave Lake has a tradition of placing poppies on the gravestones of veterans every year a day or two before Remembrance Day. It will be doing that again after a brief ceremony at the cemetery on Saturday, Nov. 9, starting at 2:30 p.m.
“The whole community is welcome,” says Legion President Beth McDonald.
The challenge for the Legion is coming up with a list of the veterans who are buried at the cemetery. A comprehensive record doesn’t seem to exist. Leadership at the Legion has changed quite a bit over the years; local knowledge gets watered down. The town doesn’t seem to have such records either, and people move on and information gets lost. It may not have been compiled in the first place.
The current leadership at the Legion is always trying to add to its list of veterans and is asking for help from the public. Last week, they put a list on social media of the veterans it knows of that are interred at the ceremony. It’s incomplete, and the request is for help in filling it out.
“We want to honour them all,” says McDonald. “Past and present.”
Honouring living veterans is a different process. McDonald says an “honour wall” at the Legion is being developed. It relies heavily on families or other people with knowledge about local veterans contributing pictures and stories. The Legion would very much like to hear from anyone with a story to tell about veterans.
Helping out living veterans is a big part of the mandate of the Legion as well. McDonald says all the money collected in the poppy campaign and wreath sales goes into a separate fund for that purpose – all of it is spent locally.
“We have some new ones,” she says. “Hopefully we can help them any way we can.”
To that end, on Sunday, the 10th of November, the Legion in Slave Lake is having an open house for any and all veterans. If anyone has questions, or just wants to chat, come on down for a coffee and snacks.
“We’ll be there to meet you,” McDonald says.