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'I had friends, I lost friends': Veterans reflect on past at launch of annual TTC Poppy Campaign

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Canadian veterans, along with students from Davisville Public School, launched the Toronto Royal Canadian Legion’s annual TTC Poppy Campaign at Leslie Subway Station on Friday.

“A red poppy is a symbol of remembrance, the hope for a peaceful future. Poppies are worn as a show of support for the veterans who have served, and those who are still serving,” said Commander John Dufort.

Veterans reminded Toronto residents to wear a poppy — in honour of the men and women who served our country.

“I had friends, I lost friends, and you had to serve your country. There were bad people out there and war was a rough time, but you had to serve your country,” recalled army veteran, Morris AGAMS.

While many reflected on the bravery and patriotism of those who served, navy veteran Richard Ratcliffe called attention to those who stayed behind.

“Don’t forget the people that were left behind that had to carry on their lives themselves until we came back.”

A new initiative this year, designed to help build a tangible link to the past, is called “Poppy Stories.” People can scan their poppies with their smartphones at “poppystories.ca” to read short stories about Canadian veterans who died in service.

The Royal Canadian Legion is also phasing in new biodegradable poppies and wreaths this year to reduce their environmental footprint. It will take a few years to use up all existing stock, but eventually, all poppies used during the campaign will be biodegradable.

The annual poppy campaign runs through to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.

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