St. Catharines soldiers stand guard for veterans
Despite decades of service and retirement, two men from St. Catharines are still on duty and distribute poppies.
Sgt. Major Harry Mussell and Sgt. Major David Hagan, both from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24, organized a poppy campaign inside the Real Canadian Superstore in St. Catharines.
With nearly 40 years of service and 30 years of friendship between them, the two soldiers have long retired but are on duty to collect donations for their fellow veterans, handing out poppies in return.
Both men said the poppies were an important symbol of remembering lost lives, as was financial support for those who served and are alive today.
“In my opinion, we live in the best free country in the world and it wasn’t cheap,” Mussell said. “And a lot of these veterans need our help and I’m so damn happy to come here and help them out.”
Wanting to help during the Korean War, Mussell, now 88, joined the Armed Forces at the age of 21. After training he obtained his rank of sergeant major but was never deployed overseas and instead worked as a range instructor for his 10 year career.
“We believe veterans deserve better,” Hagan said. “And if we don’t do anything, no one will. ”
For Hagan, 91, service began when he joined the Cadets at just 14 in the UK, moving to Canada and enlisting in the Canadian Army in 1954. His service sent him out into the world. whole, he said, naming Malaysia, Palestine and Tripoli as stops he made on tour.
Hagan said part of the military’s job is to protect the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the most valuable lesson he’s learned during his service is to “do to others what you they would like you to do them “.
Until November 10, the two sergeant majors will be handing out poppies for donation inside the Real Canadian Superstore at 411 Louth Street in St. Catharines from noon to 4 p.m. All proceeds will go to supporting veterans.