With Remembrance Day only a few weeks away, veterans and friends of the Royal Canadian Legion gathered at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday for the annual first poppy ceremony. This event marked the beginning of the 2016 National Poppy Campaign, as Governor General David Johnston received the symbolic first poppy from David Flannigan, dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Among the invited guests for this event were four Salvation Army officers: Majors Gary and Sharon Cooper, area commanders, Ontario Central-East Division; and Captains James and Michelle Mercer, corps officers, The Salvation Army Barrhaven Church in Ottawa.

Captain Michelle Mercer meets Governor General David Johnston. Captain Michelle Mercer meets Governor General David Johnston.

“Historically, The Salvation Army has had a strong connection with our war veterans, particularly with the Red Shield Services and the Lassies who served refreshments on the front lines,” says Major Sharon Cooper. “When we come to this ceremony and talk to people, we see how their actions are still impacting people today.”

After guests were welcomed to the ceremony, the Governor General began his remarks by reading a portion of In Flanders Fields, the poem by Canadian Lt-Colonel John McCrae which inspired the adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

“There are so many memories left to us by those who fought in the First World War and in those wars that followed,” he said. “It's now our responsibility to pass on what we know, to keep their memories alive.”

Addressing the veterans present, he continued, “Canadians wear the poppy to honour, remember and say thank you for all that you have done for this country.”

The Governor General was followed by Legion Grand President Larry Murray who spoke of the “debt of gratitude” Canadians owe to their veterans. The poppy represents an “eternal recognition” of their sacrifices, he said.

After his remarks, Murray and Flannigan pinned the first poppies on the Governor General and Mrs. Sharon Johnston before they, in turn, presented poppies to Murray and Flannigan and the first row of guests. The ceremony then concluded with the singing of O Canada.

At the reception that followed, Majors Cooper and Captains Mercer met with veterans, the Governor General and Mrs. Johnston, and shared about the work the Army is doing across the country.

Poppies will be available to the general public beginning October 28.


On Monday, October 22, 2018, Capt Milfred W. A. Harper Black Watch rtd said:

Being a vet and a member of the Salvation Army I hold it with great honor to see our divisional leaders to get the season started. every year I look fwd to the poppies and then the kettles duty.As long JESUS CHRIST gives me breath my duty is to my Country under the direction of the HOLY SPIRIT so my prayer is for all of us veterans in all wars and for all of us who is also a member of the Regiment of the Salvation Army


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