Every year on November 11 we watch the Legion, the RCMP, and the Air Cadets march into Kinsman Park to carry out the Remembrance Day ceremonies. And every year, we ask ourselves, “Who’s that soldier leading the parade and barking out the orders—by the left, quick march?”
It turns out that the Lieutenant directing the marchers and emceeing the Remembrance Day event is Sam Brown, past president of the local Legion. He is a quiet man who believes in simply doing things without any major fanfare.
Sam was born and raised in Jamaica and was an army cadet in his youth. What is not known is that Sam is a trained teacher, having spent three years in Normal School in Jamaica, where he taught for four years. In his youth, he was also known as a competitive singer with a fine baritone voice, winning many contests at the Parish level.
He arrived in Canada in 1969 with his first wife, also a teacher. She had a job teaching, but he didn’t, so he took an electrical apprenticeship with Cominco, where he worked happily for 30 years. He has three grown children from his first marriage, all living elsewhere. He lives in Castlegar with his second wife, Judith.
During his time here, he joined the army reserves, but his main work was as a cadet instructor. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1975 and is currently listed as Lieutenant-Retired. He has spent the past 39 years as a Legion member, having been President in 1982 and 1983 and then again in 2007, 2008, and 2009. He is currently its vice-president.
His Legion work did not stop at the local level. He was Legion Zone commander in 1985, looking after 11 branches, and then again in 1995. He was elected to the provincial Legion executive in 1987 and 1988 where he became the chair of the provincial Legion’s Honours and Awards program.
When he served at the provincial Legion level again in 1997-1999, he took on the role of Poppy Chairman for British Columbia. From 1999 to 2005, he was the vice-chair of the Provincial Command. He was made a “Life Member” in 2005 and currently devotes himself to the local Legion.
In addition to the Legion, he is a member of the Free Masons, having been a member in the Sentinel Lodge in Castlegar and the Corinthian Lodge in Trail, where he currently is the Master. He is a past Master in Castlegar, having served as Master in 1994 and 2000. Recently, he finished a term as District Deputy-Grand Master for Kootenay District # 6.
That’s not all. For many years, he was involved with the Trail Male Chorus and was its music director. He has been out of the music scene for awhile, but each year he still emcees the Harmony Spring Concert in Trail.
In the 1990s, he was the Parade Marshal for Sunfest for six years, and it was his decision to move the beginning of the parade from the current CIBC parking lot down to the Midtown Mall area.
As well, because his wife has a Scottish background, he has committed himself to major roles in local area Robert Burns’ Night programs. He wears the traditional kilt and does the “Address to the Haggis” in Nelson or Trail. Sometimes he is called upon to address “the immortal memory” of Burns.
Despite holding several important local and provincial positions, he is content to simply do the job and not seek publicity. As he says, “I see no point in waving the flag on my own behalf.”
Now on November 11 when this mystery man, Sam Brown, calls out, “Company, stand at ease,” you will know a bit more about him.