Using Tillsonburg Retirement Residence as a backdrop, the local community worked together to create a Nov. 11 Remembrance Day tribute to remember and honour the men and women who served and sacrificed for their country.
Residents and staff at Tillsonburg Retirement Residence and members of the community, including local students, children and individuals made 1,000 lawn poppies for Remembrance Day.
Each poppy had a message on the back.
“Hello, I hope you are having a good day. I would like to thank you for everything you have done for the world. Thank you,” one student wrote.
“Thank you for fighting for us. You are very kind. We are very thankful. From Shay.”
“We will always remember.”
“Thank you for fighting for us.”
“Peace is wonderful. Peace feels like sliding your finger across flowers. Peace sounds like fresh air. Peace smells like fresh flowers. Peace tastes like sweet, warm lemons. Peace looks like northern lights. Peace is amazing.”
“To our men and women, past, present and future. Thanks for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for our freedom and life we have! If it wasn’t for you, I wonder what life would be like. From your friend Haiven.”
Participating schools included Annandale, South Ridge, Westfield and Langton’s Sacred Heart. Sonbeam Daycare also joined in with glitter-glue poppies.
With the pandemic, Chantal McDonald, executive director at Tillsonburg Retirement Residence, knew this year like last year would be different but did not want the importance of Remembrance Day to be forgotten.
“Today we have displayed many beautiful tributes from our staff, residents, families, community partners in giving much respect for our veterans of the past and present,” said McDonald in a media release.
“We all have the freedoms today from the hard working efforts of our soldiers. Our home is commemorating Remembrance Day in honouring our veterans through programs throughout the day.”
Those programs included an 11 a.m. service, the 1,000 poppy exhibit (commemorating the 100th anniversary of poppies), a creative program on Remembrance Day, social talk with the Legion, poetry and historical videos.
Tillsonburg Retirement Residence was also host to a Tillsonburg Legion service with the residents earlier in the week and they gave each veteran a care package of goodies “from our home to theirs.”
The poppy display at 183 Rolph St. was taken down by residents and staff late Thursday due to anticipated inclement weather.
Twenty-five of the (unplanted) poppies were dropped off at the Tillsonburg Legion for their Legion dinner, and Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar mentioned the “touching, tremendously poignant (poppies and wreaths) that the students prepared,” at the Legion dinner, along with other student Remembrance Day submissions.
Oxford MP Dave MacKenzie, speaking at the dinner, referenced a message from a Grade 8 student.
“I think it’s so appropriate,” said MacKenzie. “It says, ‘Dear veteran, thank you for your service. You’re risking your life not only to keep the country safe, but keeping us safe and giving us freedoms and rights. Thank you for not only being brave but reminding always to be brave. Thank you.’
“I think that says everything that we need to know about the young people coming along,” MacKenzie concluded.
Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman also referenced a student’s Remembrance Day message at the Legion dinner.
“Thank you for everything you have done for us,” said Hardeman. “Thank you for helping in the war. Veterans, and to everyone who was included, don’t worry be happy.”