The poppy: an enduring symbol of remembrance
November 11 is when we pause to reflect on the men and women who served and who are currently serving our country. On this date, Canadians are called upon to pay tribute to the 2.3 million compatriots who, throughout our nation’s history, risked their lives defending our country, and the 118,000 who lost their lives. The tradition of wearing poppies — or replicas of poppies — on Remembrance Day has its roots in the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written during the First World War by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. The poem, which became widely known across the Commonwealth of Nations and in the United States, speaks of the poppies that thrived on fields in Belgium and Northern France where some of the war’s bloodiest battles were fought. After the publication of McCrae’s verses, poppies took on symbolic meaning, representing at once remembrance, rebirth, hope and the blood spilt in war. Today, the poppies we wear on November 11 help us to be mindful of the sacrifice of the brave Canadian soldiers of this war and every other armed conflict in our nation’s history. The Royal Canadian Legion, who through the sale of these poppies provides support for veterans, suggests that the flower be worn on the left lapel of our garments, close to our hearts.