By: Deb Robert

The red maple leaf will fly proudly as Sutton Royal Canadian Legion Branch 356 unveils a new memorial mural in tribute to the Canadian Armed Forces.

The legion is inviting the community to its 21 East Street location on Saturday, October 26th for the reveal of the mural adorning the hall’s exterior facade.  

The event theme, “renewing respect for our veterans,” is a salute to men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who have served around the globe, in far-flung wars and conflicts, and on peacekeeping missions. Homage will also be paid to RCMP members.

Speakers include Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk and MPP Caroline Mulroney. Members of eight legion branches, as well as legion district and zone command representatives, will also be in attendance.

Marching on the Colours opens the ceremony commencing at 11 a.m. “We’ve chosen eleven o’clock out of respect for Remembrance Day,” says Mike Burton, Chair of the Mural Committee and the legion’s immediate past president.

A special smudging ceremony will be conducted by the Chippewas of Georgina Island. All are welcome to the open house BBQ lunch following the ceremony. With an approximate membership of 330 past and current military personnel as well as the general public, Sutton legion services the entire municipality.

The branch membership reflects decades of military duty. They recently lost a veteran of the Korean War, while other members have served in conflicts including Afghanistan, on overseas bases and in NATO operations. Sutton legion’s proud membership also includes Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Anne Wilson, who is very involved in the branch. Her son Warrant Officer Robert Wilson from Keswick was killed in Afghanistan in 2008.

Sutton legion is not just a welcoming space for camaraderie. Its myriad of services includes food and shelter grants, job support, PTSD resources, and a crisis hotline for veterans. “We offer a place to call their own,” says Burton. “Our branch can access resources throughout the legion’s support networks. We bring them together and help direct vets in the right ways.”

The mural unveiling coincides with the annual poppy campaign launching October 25th. The community can share in the memorial with a remembrance poppy donation on behalf of a military veteran. Poppies will be numbered and overlaid on the mural with a legend inside the hall listing veteran names corresponding to each poppy.

The former decayed mural is making way for a refreshed veteran pictorial. “Fifteen years ago, we created a mural to respect vets and different sections of the military,” says Burton. “It served its time.”  After four years of fundraising, Burton says, “we’re bringing the mural up to date, reflecting the current status of vets serving in the military along with community partners. Our committee designed the board to represent our local branch as well as the Canadian legion as a whole.” 

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