The Changing Role of the Legion

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Members join their local Legion organizations for a variety of reasons. Past President of the Millbrook Legion John Dike joined the Legion in his northern Ontario community at age 19 in order to play in their band. He was a member of his high school band, but playing for the Legion was a paying gig. Besides, the Legion was the only placed licensed to serve alcohol in his community. Easy decision.

Current Legion President Diann Corfe joined with her husband who was a career soldier. The Legion was a big part of the couple’s social life, and since his passing the importance of that social connection has become even more important for Diann.

The Royal Canadian Legion has a long history, and was established in 1926 to consolidate a number of WWI veterans’ organizations. Today there are more than 300,000 members in over 1400 Legion branches across Canada. Membership was originally open to service members only, but as their numbers dwindled, the organization extended membership to families of veterans and eventually to any Canadian citizen or citizen of an allied country over the age of 18. The organization provides a variety of essential services to their communities. They promote the perpetuation of the remembrance of members of military who died for their country, act as advocates for veterans, military, RCMP members and their families. They operate as a not-for-profit service organization funded by membership fees, fundraising events and the annual poppy drive. While they do not receive funding from any government agency, they can seek financial support for the restoration of monuments through specific programs or apply for assistance through government programs for initiatives outside the scope of their normal operations.

For many small communities, the local Legion Hall represents a central building providing a venue for community social gatherings. Our own local legion, Branch 402, with its central location, is a popular place for events for local community groups and hosts regular events appealing to all ages. From business meetings, memorial dinners and special celebrations, the Legion members are happy to open their doors.

Above all, Legion members welcome all Canadians to join them as they stand beside Veterans of all ages and offer their appreciation and support for their service. KG

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