Thursday October 27, 2010

Remembrance Day

Poppy Protocol 

The pride and patriotism behind a simple lapel pin

Submitted by Desmond Devnich       


simple velvet, red poppy, worth so little in monetary value, yet it's significance is passionately felt by veterans in Canada, the United States, Britain and around the world. Do today's youth understand the importance of the Remembrance Day poppy?

The Royal Canadian Legion calls the wearing of poppies a “pledge to never forget,” and a “display of collective reminiscence.” My research began with a simple question, when should one begin wearing a poppy? The Ministry of Veterans Affairs describes a Remembrance Day period from the last Friday in October to midnight, November 11.

Traditionally, apart from veterans-related special events, this has been the only time to display that beautiful red flower from the fields of Flanders. However, Veterans Affairs acknowledges it is respectful to wear a poppy whenever an individual wishes.

There is other poppy-wearing protocol I found interesting. Replacing the pin on a poppy is considered defacing it. A poppy should never be reused; the disposal of it, however, is left up to the individual's discretion. Any poppies found lying on the ground are best placed at the foot of a war monument or local cemetery.

Something clutched my heart during my research; something I missed in all my years of elementary and high school Social Studies lessons. Where do the poppies we wear come from? I was surprised to discover that until 1996, poppies were handmade by veterans in the VetCraft workshops program in Montreal and Toronto. This work provided a small source of income for the disabled ex-service persons who created the poppies.

You can imagine how shocked I was to learn that my donation (typically a loonie) is used for a cause beyond the manufacturing of these poppies. Money raised by those friendly, often elderly members of local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion provides “direct assistance for ex-service people in financial distress, as well as funding for medical appliances and research, home services, care facilities” and more. What a spectacular cause! I have the ability to give back to the people who gave so much for my freedom. With this knowledge, I feel empowered to give as much as I can.

Veterans Affairs coordinates a special Veterans' Week each year. Canadians are being asked this November 5-11, 'How Will You Remember?' The challenge is, how can average Canadians go beyond remembrance as a feeling and turn remembrance into action. Our government has given a list of suggestions:

l First, donate to the Legion and wear a poppy, closest to your heart (or on the left lapel of your outermost garment).

l Attend a local Remembrance Day ceremony

l Talk to a friend or relative who has recently returned from duty in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the world.

l Listen to veterans talk about their experiences.

l Utilize Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to communicate the importance of remembrance.

The Royal Canadian Legion says by wearing a poppy this Remembrance Day, November 11, “we stand united as Canadians sharing a common history of sacrifice and commitment.” On this upcoming statutory holiday, please take a moment to consider why we have this day off from work and school. It has meaning. It has history. It honours our veterans and recognizes the sacrifices made by servicemen and women around the world. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae once wrote, “Take up our quarrel with the foe: to you from failing hands, we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”

Moretti, Stefania. “Inside the Royal Canadian Legion's Poppy Campaign.” News here. 

Royal Canadian Legion. The Poppy Campaign. Website here.

Veterans Affairs Canada. How Will You Remember? website here.

The Royal British Legion. The Poppy Appeal. Website here.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Day Frequently Asked Questions. Website here.


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