The Cayman Islands Veterans Association pinned Governor Helen Kilpatrick with the first poppy of the 2014 campaign this week.
Cayman veterans Dale Banks, Ewart Ebanks, Graham Walker, David Smalldon and Larry Rotchell presented the governor with the poppy in her office during a small ceremony on Monday. The pinning was made in advance of this year’s Remembrance Day, which is observed on Nov. 11.
“The first poppy has been presented to the governor since the 1970s when the association was formed. It is one way for the poppy appeal to get publicity for the campaign, which seeks to raise fund to benefit veterans and their spouses,” said Mr. Banks, who is president of the Veterans Association.
Mr. Banks said the poppy appeal is the veterans’ primary fundraising campaign, which also includes a formal gala staged in military style. “The gala is lots of fun, solemn moments and a place setting to honor the fallen. The glass is turned upside down to symbolize those that have died in combat,” he said.
Throughout the Commonwealth, the poppy is used as a means of raising funds to help veterans. In Cayman, veterans start selling the poppies before Remembrance Day in various establishments around the island. “If people cannot afford to buy a poppy, we gladly give one for free,” said Mr. Banks.
World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918. Not long after that, the poppy became the symbol of the suffering soldiers had gone through in the war, Mr. Banks said.
‘In Flanders Field’
“In Flanders Fields” is one of the most popular and most quoted poems from the war, he said. The poem refers to red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers, which resulted in the poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.
“Traditionally, we do not start selling poppies until the governor is presented with the first poppy,” Mr. Banks said.
A Remembrance Day Service will be held on Sunday Nov. 9 at the Elsmlie Memorial Church in George Town. Veterans wear poppies to the service and wreaths are lain at the foot of the Veterans Memorial in memory of those lost in the war. During the ceremony, which more than 60 veterans are expected to attend, 15 to 20 wreaths will be laid at the memorial.