Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden received the ceremonial first poppy from legion president Jim MacDonald Tuesday night, at the start of the council meeting. (Fred Armstrong/Maple Ridge)

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden received the ceremonial first poppy from legion president Jim MacDonald Tuesday night, at the start of the council meeting. (Fred Armstrong/Maple Ridge)

Poppy pinned onto Maple Ridge mayor to launch campaign

Ceremonial presentations of the ‘first poppy’ kicked off the Remembrance drive locally on Tuesday

Taggers have been out accepting donations in exchange for symbolic poppies for almost a week now, but Tuesday night marked the local poppy campaign’s official kickoff.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden was presented with the ceremonial first poppy by Jim MacDonald, president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch #88. It occurred at the start of Tuesday evening’s council meeting, with each member of council subsequently being given a poppy.

A presentation has since been made to Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall, as well, MacDonald said.

“This follows the protocol established across Canada, where the Governor-General is presented first, then the Lieutenant-Governors of the provinces, and then the mayors across the country,” he explained.

The poppy was adopted as the official flower of remembrance in Canada in 1921, inspired by the poetry of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer in the Second World War. His haunting 1915 poem, In Flanders Fields, painted the melancholy image of rows of poppies growing upon the resting places of those lost in the war.

Now more than 20 million poppies are distributed each year in communities across Canada.

The poppy has actually become the international symbol of remembrance representing a visual pledge to pay homage to the fallen, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the preservation of peace and freedom. And now, every year, from the last Friday of October to Nov. 11, tens of millions of Canadians wear a Poppy as a visual pledge to honour Canada’s veterans and remember those who sacrificed.

For the past two years, residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have donated in excess of $72,000 each year to the legion’s poppy campaign, MacDonald said.

“These are outstanding record amounts,” he said, elaborating that the local legion distributes more than 40,000 poppies to the public during the annual campaign last year.

“It is important to note that the legion does not ‘sell’ poppies. It is all by donation,” MacDonald said, explaining how those participating in the distribution are called volunteers or taggers.

“As well as direct donations to our veterans and dependents, poppy funds are also used to improve the services provided to them ie. Ridge Meadows Hospital, Ridge Meadows Hospice, Baillie House, the veterans transition program, guide dogs, etc.,” MacDonald concluded.

• Stay tuned to The News for more Remembrance Day stories,

including details about the local Nov. 11 services