PORT HAWKESBURY: With all the public health restrictions they have to abide by, as a result of COVID-19, the Royal Canadian Legion had to make some innovative changes to the 2020 Poppy Campaign.

Each year there is a national First Poppy Presentation to the Governor General and following that a First Poppy Presentation to the Lieutenant Governors of each province.

This year, to locally give an advance awareness of the upcoming Poppy Campaign, Royal Candian Legion Branch 43 in Port Hawkesbury made a formal presentation of the First Poppy to Her Worship Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who is just starting her second term as Port Hawkesbury’s Mayor.

Mayor Chisholm-Beaton graciously accepted the First Poppy and immediately made arrangements to display it prominently in the Civic Centre. She continues to step up to assist all aspects of Remembrance for Branch 43, particularly as a guest speaker for Remembrance Services and school events.

The brief ceremony was witnessed by Branch 43 president Gary Burns, treasurer Marguerite Howlett and poppy chair Rod Corbett. The 1st Poppy was presented to Mayor Chisholm-Beaton by Veteran Ron Beaton.

Beaton has been a appreciated member of Branch 43 since moving to the area circa 1970. As a young man of 20 years, he joined the Canadian Army, serving for three years. In 1963 he was sent to the Republic of Congo in the Peacekeeping mission to address the Congo Crisis which lasted from 1960 through to 1964.

Canadian Forces performed admirably, even though they were attacked several times by Congolese forces who were suspicious of them. As Beaton says, Peacekeeping was a misnomer since “there was no peace to keep.” The danger was ever present and palpable. Extreme violence was an every day occurrence.

After leaving the army, Beaton spent a year with the Halifax Police Department and then joined the OPP. It was during his service in Ontario where he developed an appreciation of the stress paramedics and police have to go through in dealing with emergency situations. Branch 43 has been fortunate to have Beaton within its ranks. He stood tall again several years ago to deliver a memorable and poignant speech to the Annual Veterans Banquet about his service experiences.

The distribution of poppies to the general public starts on October 30 and continues until November 11. Poppies will be available at fewer locations this year because of COVID-19.