‘I will wear it with pride’: Veteran pins governor with first poppy

Governor Helen Kilpatrick, patron of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association, makes a donaton after receiving the first poppy as part of the annual Poppy Appeal drive. - Photo: Jewel Levy

Shadden McLaughlin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, pinned the first poppy on Governor Helen Kilpatrick Monday morning, launching this year’s annual Poppy Appeal.

Governor Kilpatrick told veterans at the ceremony at the Government Administration Building, “I will wear it with pride.”

She added, “It’s always a real pleasure to receive the first poppy. The whole Poppy Appeal reminds us of the sacrifices people have made, and I think it is absolutely fantastic the way the veterans organize themselves and get everyone in the Cayman Islands thinking about people who have served their country.”

The annual Poppy Appeal raises money for veterans in need.

It has long been a tradition in the Cayman Islands for the governor to be pinned with the first poppy, and Ms. McLaughlin said she was honored to have done so.

The poppy, which symbolizes peace, compassion and hope, was chosen shortly after World War I as a token of remembrance for everyone who had suffered the tragedy of war.

The appeal kickoff also featured a display showcasing one of 888,246 blood-red ceramic poppies that were created and displayed last year at the Tower of London, England. Each one honored a World War I British or colonial military fatality.

The display will remain at the Government Administration Building during the Poppy Appeal campaign, veteran Paul Ebanks said. His wife Mary Ebanks bought four of the poppies and gave one to the Cayman Islands Veterans Association.

A Royal Marine veteran, Mr. Ebanks has been a member of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association for the past 30 years. He said the poppy appeal not only raises money for the veterans, but also serves to educate the general public on the sacrifices that military personnel have made and continue to make.

Shadden McLaughlin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, pins the first poppy on Governor Helen Kilpatrick. - Photo: Jewel Levy
Shadden McLaughlin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, pins the first poppy on Governor Helen Kilpatrick. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Donations received during the annual appeal are the major source of income for the nonprofit organization.

Dale Banks, president of the Caymans Islands Veteran Association, said, “We are glad to help and grateful for the generosity of the people of the Cayman Islands. It’s amazing we get support year after year.”

He added that many years ago, veterans collected money for poppies but the money was sent to England. Now, the money is used locally.

“If a veteran in Cayman needed assistance, we had to go through England to get the help,” he said, “but since the 1970s, when the Cayman Veterans Association was formed, all that is collected stays in Cayman.

“We are a part of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, headquartered in London, which comprises some 55 Commonwealth countries and territories,” Mr. Banks said, adding that former Cayman Islands Governor Thomas Russell was the representative of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association in England until his death his year.

Collection boxes will remain at the Government Administration building until Remembrance Day on Nov. 14.

Veterans and their families will also be seeking donations in front of supermarkets and other businesses in the coming weeks.

“Donate if you can,” Mr. Banks said. “If not, just take a poppy and wear it with pride.”

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