Roy Empey

What remembrance day means to me

A message from Roy Empey, President of Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 171

As a young student, I remember attending class and finding a bowl of poppies on the teacher’s desk. Every student would put one on, and at exactly 11 o’clock, we would stand for a two minute silence. Then we would go back to our school work.

In later years, as a sea cadet, we would march  to the cenotaph, and learned more about the war and what it was about. My father, three of my uncles, and an older cousin served in World War II. Fortunately, they all came home, but my cousin was wounded with shrapnel in his back and neck. I was mesmerized by his scars, and how they had come to be.

A lot of my good friends had joined the services, and were serving in Korea. Just before hostilities ended, I joined the Royal Canadian Navy.  While in the service, I met and worked with a lot of World War II veterans. Today, I am in my 75th year, and still have a lot of good friends from that time.

I have run the poppy campaign at our Legion Branch for the past two years, and it is very rewarding to work with the people who undertake the task of canvassing and distributing poppies.  At this time, we are busy getting wreaths ready for placement on the cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

Last year, approximately two thousand attended the service at the cenotaph – the largest turnout in years, and a real show of respect for all of our veterans.

When you are walking along First Avenue, take a look at Salamander Books window for a great display of memorabilia from the Korean conflict. The 49th Parallel flower shop also decorates their window, and the Legion has the façade filled with articles to remind us what Remembrance Day means.

On November 12, another event is taking place – the Veteran’s Dinner. It will be at the Eagles Hall this year. The Rotary Club of Ladysmith has been hosting this ceremonial dinner for a number of years.  This year the empty chair will honour two Veterans – one from WWII and one from the conflict in Afghanistan.

This is what Remembrance means to me, and I hope to see another large crowd at the cenotaph this year.