It has been an extremely busy week for Mission’s Ethel Beckingham.
In the past five days, the long-time member of the Royal Canadian Legion has attended more than seven Remembrance Day ceremonies at schools across Mission and in Abbotsford.
A former LAW (Lady Air Woman) in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Beckingham represents the Mission branch of the legion at the school events.
She has been attending the ceremonies for the past six years. She has also been heavily involved with the local legion’s poppy campaign for the past 12 years.
“I was in the Air Force and my brother was in the Air Force and I used to attend the legion, at functions, so I thought I should become a member,” she explained.
While she never went overseas, Beckingham did travel, as back in 1955 she was transferred to B.C. from northern Quebec.
“I was in radar at the beginning and then radar and communications,” she said.
“When I finished service out here, I was transferring flight plans from Vancouver Airport to the outlying stations for incoming aircraft – all the flight plans.”
She decided to remain in B.C. and eventually made Mission her home in the early 1990s.
Beckingham said the school Remembrance Day ceremonies are important to hold, for many reasons, especially for the younger children.
“So many of them need to know about it. It’s incredible how many children don’t know about it.”
On a personal level, Beckingham – who has worked with children for most of her life as a long-time babysitter, school system employee and a volunteer with figure skating for almost four decades – says she just loves watching them.
“I enjoy it. I really do. They work hard. In some ways it’s like a Christmas concert. It’s the same idea, only this is to do with wars and the veterans. It’s great for them. It’s just good experience.”
Last week, a group of cubs and scouts came to the legion and presented the members with handmade poppies which will be used as decorations.
“I’m just happy they are learning about it,’” she said, adding that if they start now, then when they get older they will understand what Remembrance Day is all about.
“It’s important to keep it going… We don’t have too many Second World War veterans left but we do have one or two.”
And there are still veterans from other wars including Korea, Afghanistan and the many peacekeeping missions that Canada takes part in.
“War. It stops in one place and breaks out in another.”
On Saturday, Nov. 11, Mission hosts its annual Remembrance Day Service. Beckingham suggests that people come early.
“It’s usually packed, you are lucky if you can get in. It’s standing room only. It shows people do care.”