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World War II vet takes up familiar downtown post for Remembrance Day

For the past 10 years, 78-year-old Arthur Hughes has stood at the corner of Robson and Hornby streets, selling poppies for Remembrance Day and this year he’s at it again.

For the past 10 years, 78-year-old Arthur Hughes has stood at the corner of Robson and Hornby streets, selling poppies for Remembrance Day and this year he’s at it again.

Every morning for two weeks leading up to Nov. 11, Hughes dons his original army uniform – the same one he’s had for 58 years – and heads out for his 10-hour shift. He’s at his post by 7 a.m., ready for the crowds heading to work.

“I just put on the old uniform and do it,” he said. “The hours don’t bother me.”

Hughes, a Canadian, served in the British Army from June 1950 to April 1954 before returning to Vancouver to attend UBC. He worked as a school teacher, teaching French, history and geography at Britannia High School before retiring 15 years ago.

The days surrounding Remembrance Day are always tough on Hughes, who can’t help but think of the family members he lost to war.

“Remembrance Day makes me sad,” he said. “I think often of my four uncles who didn’t make it back. But, that’s also what’s so great about this time, it brings alive all the memories of all those fellas and ladies who went over there.”

According to Hughes, reception to the poppy drive has been better this fall than in previous years.

“It’s been nothing but good wishes this year,” he said. “Not an angry word or dirty look from anyone. It’s been great.”

This year’s positive response bodes well for future poppy drives and the continued importance of Remembrance Day, something Hughes hopes will always hold a special place for Canadians.

“As soon as we forget about these guys, they’ve almost lost their lives in vain,” he said. “Remembrance Day is just that, remembrance. It’s not about valour, it’s not about courage, those are inherent.”

Even those from outside Canada have taken the time to put a poppy on their lapels. Joshua Benhaim of Venezuela feels proud to remember Canadian troops.

“My family is Jewish, and Canadians went to Normandy to help my people,” he said. “Because they did that, they helped save Jewish people.”

The 18-year-old Benhaim, who is studying English in Vancouver, thinks all Canadians should be sure to get a poppy this year.

“Even if you don’t know the history, if you are a Canadian you must wear a poppy and be proud,” he said.

 
 
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