The importance of remembering

Paul Herridge
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Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day brings to mind different feelings and memories for each every one of us. For Stephen Pottle, president of the Royal Canadian Legion's Newfoundland and Labrador Command, his thoughts turn to his youth and recollections of how his war veteran brother and brother-in-law would get together to share a toast.

Royal Canadian Legion, Newfoundland and Labrador Command president Stephen Pottle.

Remembrance Day brings to mind different feelings and memories for each every one of us.

For Stephen Pottle, president of the Royal Canadian Legion's Newfoundland and Labrador Command, his thoughts turn to his youth and recollections of how his war veteran brother and brother-in-law would get together to share a toast.

Not to each other mind you, but to their comrades.

He acknowledged "I couldn't understand what they were toasting until later on, but it was to the ones that either didn't come back or the ones that were there and that they missed. Remembrance is remembering."

The Stephenville resident, who was elected to the post in August, will be in St. John's tomorrow for Remembrance Day services in the province's capital.

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces for some 33 years, Mr. Pottle served five years in Germany with NATO, completed two tours in Cyprus with the United Nations and another with the same organization's Disengagement Observation Force in the Golan Heights.

He also spent time at several military bases across the country before retiring in 2000.

"I firmly believe that everyone wants to remember. I find that it's more so now than ever in the schools."

Mr. Pottle suggested inspiring youth is necessary if the Remembrance Day is to stay alive and remain relevant. He acknowledged Legion members continue to visit schools throughout the province leading up to the sombre occasion.

He said the organization is receiving more and more responses to its poster, essay and poem contests.

"They're the ones that are going to have to carry on this Remembrance because the older folk are moving on.

"Remembrance should be like the saying: 'lest we forget'. We should never forget … and they're doing famously. Their assemblies are getting bigger and better."

POPPY CAMPAIGN

The Royal Canadian Legion's annual Poppy Campaign kicked off in the province Oct. 30 and runs right up until tomorrow, Nov. 11.

The flower's history as a symbol of Remembrance to Canadians, who have fallen in war and military activities, dates back almost 100 years now to 1921 and has also been adopted since by other countries.

According to the Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Command website, the Poppy's symbolism has international origins and has been associated with people killed in war since the 1700s. A record from the time shows Poppies had grown over the graves of soldiers around Flanders, France.

It was noted few Poppies grew in Flanders just prior to World War One. However, the chalk soils in the region became rich with lime from rubble, which allowed the flower to flourish.

Once the war was over and the lime absorbed, the Poppy disappeared again.

Of course, in Canada the Poppy became immortalized through Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae's famous poem 'In Flanders Fields', written in 1915 following a comrade's death in France during World War One.

Mr. Pottle indicated every Legion branch across the Newfoundland and Labrador Command takes part in the Poppy Campaign.

He explained the campaign helps keep the Remembrance tradition alive, but also is a major fundraiser for veterans, including those who participated in World War Two and the Korean War, but also more recent veterans, serving members and their dependants should they require assistance for one reason or another.

"If they do require assistance of some sort, well then we can also avail of the Poppy Trust Fund. That trust does not belong to the Legion. It does not belong to the provincial Command.

"It belongs to the people and we are the trustees. We are the ones that actually look after it on behalf of the public."

Organizations: Royal Canadian Legion, Newfoundland and Labrador Command, Canadian Armed Forces NATO United Nations Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund

Geographic location: Stephenville, St. John's, Germany Cyprus Golan Heights Flanders France Canada

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