Melfort Legion completes tree project with signs dedicated to veterans

Melfort Legion Photo An employee from Dobson Welding installed a sign dedicated to those who served in front of the Melfort Legion on June 27. It was one of four signs placed on tree boxes that were previously installed in 2012.

The Melfort Legion has unveiled new signs to honour veterans of four major world conflicts.

The signs have been added to the four Northern Ash trees in front of the Legion that were planted in 2012, with the support of Zosel’s Tree Farm, Communities in Bloom and the City of Melfort.

The signs added to the four trees each represent a major international conflict; World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Afghan War. Melfort Legion President Jim Graham was happy to see the project complete.

“It’s a really important thing (and) important for us, for the key guys. John Wade, who runs the lounge and has been on the executive long time and Bart Bessey who’s on was my first vice and myself,” Graham said.

In a news release, the Melfort Legion credits Bob Ellis, who served as Legion president for over 14 years, for spearheading the memorial at the time of the creation.

Melfort Legion Photo Bob Ellis (Centre) and the employees of Dobson Welding in Melfort who installed the signs dedicated to veterans of conflicts on June 27.

“Bob Ellis is kind of stepping away little by little,” Graham said. “He gave up the presidency to me five years ago and carried on as the poppy chair running our poppy programs up until last year and he’s just trying to wind himself away. This was a project that was near and dear to Bob’s heart and we certainly wanted to get it completed while he was still able to see and enjoy it.”

The trees are a special way to honour the Veterans and fallen year-round, and not just on Remembrance Day each November 11th.

Ellis along with John Wade contributed to the concept of the tree boxes.The employees from Dobson Welding donated their labour to construct the signs and install them for the Legion on June 27.

Melfort Legion Photo The signs dedicated to those who fought in conflicts sit in front of the Melfort Legion branch before they were installed on June 27.

According to Graham getting the signs installed was not a matter of raising funds but just a matter of priorities for the Legion.

“We have had a kind of a maintenance program going on,” Graham explained. “We replaced the flooring in the main room. We replaced the roof in a third of the building. We replaced the boiler system last year to heat the building and this year we replaced the windows and stuff and it was just one of those things that kind of got pushed to the backburner until John brought up this as something we can we should complete for Bob’s sake, and we decided it was time to do it.”

The trees are meant to provide a canopy “to be enjoyed by passersby.” The Legion stated that the trees and signs are a visual reminder that we live in a world that continues to experience conflict.

“Dedicating one of the trees to Korean War Veterans has gained some additional significance as we have recently recognized that Private Russell Haraldson of Melfort lost his life in the Korean War,” the Legion stated in a news release.

Graham said an important aspect of the signage was to include all the conflicts for the Legion.

“We consider ourselves to be an important part of the community and part of the leadership ensuring remembrance is always considered an important aspect of the community’s activities,” Graham said.

“Remembrance Day is important for us and having a home for veterans. We, like other people, contribute around the province to supporting veterans, long-term veterans, also the people from Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 15 years, trying to provide help to them. It just affirms to us that we still have a valid role.”

The Legion said the memorial is an opportunity for people to think about those who have served and sacrificed for Canada.

Correction: a previous version of this story contained a transcription error in one of Jim Graham’s quotes about Bob Ellis’ new role with the Legion. Ellis is serving as chair of the Legion’s Poppy Campaign. The story has been updated with the correct information. The Daily Herald apologizes for our mistake.