They fought the good fight, but the mounting financial pressures facing Langley City Branch 21 of the Royal Canadian Legion proved more than its members could overcome.
Last Sunday, the doors to the 56 Avenue lounge, where the local Legion served drinks and meals and offered live music in an effort to bring in more people, closed for good after failing to draw the numbers needed to balance the organization’s books.
But the closure doesn’t spell the end for the Langley City Legion. Instead, Branch 21 will operate out of a new, smaller, office — the location of which has yet to be announced — providing services for its members and co-ordinating its annual poppy campaign.
While it’s a sad development, the closure hasn’t come out of the blue.
By 2012, Branch 21’s finances were becoming a serious problem. The purchase of a new building cost the organization far more than it had anticipated, after members learned they would be required to do extensive renovations to the two-storey structure to bring it in line with the City’s regulations.
Inga Kruse, executive director of the Legions B.C./Yukon Command said at the time that she was confident the branch would pull through.
“People in the Langley branch, I know, are very dedicated to seeing it survive. Our organization is not sitting around waiting to die.”
On Wednesday, Kruse again — rightly — praised the membership for their effort to keep the hall open and described its closure as a “tragedy.”
Despite the setback, Legion members will continue to carry out their pivotal role in the community — ensuring veterans are served and taking part in the Remembrance Day parade and services, which will go ahead as usual this Nov. 11 at the cenotaph in Douglas Park.
In the weeks before that, Legion members and volunteers will be out in force, standing in front of Langley businesses with boxes of poppies for sale.
Why not buy one, pin it on and show them your support?