Each November, around this time, red poppies begin to blossom on the lapels and collars of Canadians from coast to coast. The poppy has stood as a symbol of remembrance since 1921. Wearing one is a visual commitment to never forget the Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations. Canadians are not alone in wearing poppies. Indeed, the red flower is “an international symbol of collective reminiscence,” with several other countries adopting the poppy in honour of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The poppy gained prominence following World War I, and in particular the the poem, In Flanders Field, penned by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae in 1915. However, the connection between the poppy and remembering those killed in war goes back nearly 200 years to the Napoleanic Wars, when it was first noted how densely the flowers grew over the graves of fallen soliders
Today poppies and most closely associated with the Royal Canadian Legion. The Legion is responsible for holding an annual poppy campaign. From now until November 11th, poppies will be available at various locations around Metro Moncton. As in the past, the poppies are not being “sold” but presented to those who want to show their respect and admiration for Canadian veterans and making a donation. Money raised supports local veterans, students and youth organizations.
While the ranks of living veterans decreases each year, there has been a resurgence of interest in Remembrance Day and support for the poppy campaign in recent years. According to Al Johnstone, president of Moncton Branch 6, Royal Canadian Legion, money raised through Moncton’s poppy campaign has actually risen in recent years. Last year, $76,000 was raised.
Of these funds, $15,000 goes to 15 bursaries of $1,000 each for post-secondary students who are descendants of veterans. Youth also benefit through contributions toward other programs, such as cadets, a leadership camp and a track and field camp. For veterans, the funds are used to purchase items like TV sets for the veteran’s health centre, comfortable reclining chairs, and adjustable tables used by veterans in wheelchairs. In other words, items that make the life of veterans more enjoyable, but are not covered by government funding. Money is also used to help veterans on a slim pension who have trouble paying their monthly bills.
The annual Moncton Remembrance Day ceremony will be held Nov. 11 at the Moncton Coliseum, complete with marching bands and representation by police officers, firefighters, cadets, scouts and guides and various other community organizations.
How is Remembrance Day in Canada observed? According to Veterans Affairs Canada, “Canadians pause in a silent moment of remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. We honour those who fought for Canada in the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as those who have served since then. More than 1,500,000 Canadians have served our country in this way, and more than 100,000 have died. They gave their lives and their futures so that we may live in peace.”
As an adult reading this, you are probably already well aware of the significance of Remembrance Day in Canada, how important it is to honour the men and women who have served our country and fought for our freedom. But do your children really know the meaning behind Remembrance Day in Canada? For many kids these days, their view on what war is comes from what they’ve “learned” from playing games like Call of Duty or other Xbox and PlayStation war games – certainly not an honest look of what war is really about. The veterans who fought for Canada didn’t have the option to just hit the “power off” button when they had enough and it’s essential that the kids of today understand this.
If you want to educate yourself or your kids more on what Remembrance Day in Canada means, check out A Day of Remembrance: Veterans Affairs Canada provide you with information on why we should remember, who and what we should remember, and how we should remember.
Although Remembrance Day in Canada concentrates on honouring those who fought in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War, we should also take the time to pay our respects to the Canadians who are currently in Afghanistan and those who have lost their lives over there.
Lest we forget.