The Royal Canadian Legion celebrates its legacy annually with Legion Week, and the Salmon Arm branch wants to encourage people from every corner of the community to become a member.
This year’s Legion Week, Sept. 17-23, is not only dedicated to honouring veterans coast to coast but also recognizes veterans who celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on May 23.
Anyone who has ever been curious about what goes on behind the Legion’s doors and wants to honour the country’s rich veteran history is welcome to join, said long-time member Harry Welton. The main priority of the Legion is to support veterans and their families, but the support extends into the surrounding communities in many important ways.
Welton joined the military in 1969, and the Royal Canadian Legion in 1972. He has received the 50 Years of Service medal and is honoured as a lifetime member. He said he has stayed with the organization for so long because of the opportunities it affords for him to honour his family’s military history and help others.
With uncles who served in both world wars, one of which died on Remembrance Day 1942 and one who was wounded just after D-Day in 1944, Welton wants to ensure their contributions and his own are respected.
“It’s more than that,” he emphasized. “In supporting the veterans and families, we have the Honour House, where families can stay for free, all covered by the Legion, and in Salmon Arm, the Poppy Fund here, all that money has to be spent in the area. Everything we do, one way or the other, goes back into the community.”
It’s not only history and remembrance, said Welton, and anyone who has a passion for helping others can likely find an avenue to do it through the Legion. Branches work to financially or otherwise support all kinds of other organizations in their regions.
A barbecue honouring current members and welcoming new ones is being held at the Salmon Arm Legion Sept. 24, 12-2 p.m. Burgers and refreshments are free, as is live music and kid’s entertainment. Members will be available to talk about the levels of membership and volunteer opportunities, and historical items are on display inside to view.
“I still hear, after all these years, ‘I can’t join, I wasn’t ever involved,’” said Welton. “And that’s just not true. We want to meet you.”