Skip to content

Assiniboia Legion emphasizing the ‘unsung heroes’

Remembrance Day on November 11 is the biggest day of the year for the Assiniboia Branch No. 17 Legion. The Legion’s membership has been active selling wreaths to local businesses and poppies through its poppy drive.

Remembrance Day on November 11 is the biggest day of the year for the Assiniboia Branch No. 17 Legion. The Legion’s membership has been active selling wreaths to local businesses and poppies through its poppy drive. It is active in organizing the town’s Remembrance Day com­memoration to be held at St. George’s Parish Hall on Nov­ember 11 starting at 10:30 a.m.

“This is not a church service, but a ceremony,” ex­plained Irvin Tubbs, Legion member and emcee for the ceremony. “Remembrance Day remembers our fallen and — not to exclude God in our presence — but it is to re­member the fallen people — that is the focal point.” The ceremony includes an escort with Legion members and representatives carrying wreaths and crosses to place at a cenotaph that has been constructed in the hall.

Assiniboia’s Legion branch has about 50 members and its president is Rita Walters. These days the branch shares building space with the Assiniboia 55 Club. Regu­lar members of the Legion are those who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces or served in war time. There are fewer Second World War veterans these days, many of whom are into their 90s. Civilians can now join the Le­gion as associate members.

At one time, the branch also had a Ladies Auxiliary but there are too few members to sustain it now. The Legion continues its activities and holds fundraisers. There are bingos, a tea and a potluck dinner during the year. These events and the poppy fund go to helping veterans in As­siniboia in their daily living. Tubbs gives one example. The Legion purchased 20 tables for serving residents meals in bed for the Ross Payant care home, which bene­fits others in the community too.

For Remembrance Day this year, Tubbs wants to em­phasize the contribution of the “unsung heroes”. He ex­plained that there is often a focus on the people who take active part in war in defense of our country and liberat­ing other countries. The unsung heroes are the men and women who get injured or even die during training. Tubbs recalled that he has personally witnessed some of his friends perish during training in friendly fire. “Remem­brance Day for me is everyday,” he stated.

Another group of unsung heroes for Canada’s military personnel are their families. The spouse left at home has to fill the role of both parents. Military personnel can be deployed for six months at a time, sometimes longer. To­day, there are family support services, but those troops during his time of active service and before that did not have such supports.

Tubbs has a unique service in Canada’s Armed Forces. He served 26 years and has been in the army, air force and navy, as well as being a paratrooper for several years. He has also been deployed on U.N. missions. He reached the highest rank of non-commissioned officer, a chief war­rant officer before retiring. Tubbs shared a few memories of the life of a Canadian soldier. Canadian military train extensively for battles in Canada. They can spend six to eight weeks training in dusty fields, or in freezing winter conditions living in tents with no conveniences, some­times no running water.

Canada participated in several wars in the modern era. The First World War armistice was declared at the elev­enth hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. There were 650,000 Canadians serving from a rela­tively small population of just eight million. Over 66,000 of them gave their lives, and 172,000 were wounded. In the Second World War more than 45,000 Canadians lost their lives and 55,000 were wounded. Canada also partici­pated in the Korean War, with almost five million people died during this short war, including 516 Canadians of the 26,791 serving. Most recently, Canada’s military partici­pated in the war in Afghanistan between 2002 to 2014. This was the largest deployment since the Second World War with 40,000 Canadians serving in different missions on land, sea and air. In this conflict, 159 Canadians per­ished. It was important for Canada to participate in these wars, “Freedom of speech is just as important as a meal on the table,” Tubbs explained. “There are countries where people are suppressed.”Tubbs also remembers the goods things about the mil­itary life, such as the camaraderie, and the joking. “It’s what keeps you going. It is unbelievable how you come to depend on each other.” This is an aspect that he misses about military life, but being in the Legion renews this sense of close friendship for him.