Governor General David Johnston has accepted The Royal Canadian Legion’s invitation to serve as the veterans organization’s patron.
One of his first duties as patron was to accept the first poppy to launch the 2010 poppy campaign at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Oct. 25.
“We are extremely pleased that the new Governor General of Canada has accepted this position,” said Dominion President Pat Varga. “It keeps alive a tradition that started 84 years ago with the formation of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League and its invitation to Lord Byng of Vimy, then the governor general of Canada, to be its first patron.”
Speaking at the first poppy ceremony, Johnston said, “Since 1921, poppies have reminded us of countless stories of brave men and women who left home to sacrifice their lives for our country. These stories tell of thousands who willingly fought in the trenches of the Western Front and took the ridge at Vimy.
“They recall those who protected the skies over London; preserved supply routes in the North Atlantic; defended the Commonwealth’s holdings in the South Pacific; stormed the beaches of Normandy; pressed the enemy back in Italy; and liberated the Netherlands.”
After her remarks, Varga pinned the first poppy on Johnston. He, in turn, pinned poppies on Varga and Legion Grand President Larry Murray. Poppies were then distributed to guests, including veterans from the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in Ottawa.
During the ceremony Varga also presented Johnston with a new 25-cent coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint featuring two red poppies to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Johnston, 69, was sworn in as Canada’s 28th governor general since Confederation on Oct. 1. The former president of the University of Western Ontario in London has had a distinguished academic career specializing in securities regulation, information technology and corporate law.