Red Poppies of Remembrance

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North of the border, Canadians wear artificial poppies in the weeks leading up to November 11th. Living in the US, I'm often asked about the poppy on my lapel. 

"Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations."  

Remembrance Day in Canada

Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of people in all armed conflicts.

Remembrance-day

What do people do?

Many people wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations. On November 11, special church services are organized. These often include the playing of "The Last Post", a reading of the fourth verse of the 'Ode of Remembrance' and two minutes silence at 11:00 (or 11am). After the service, wreaths are laid at local war memorials.

The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never been identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.

Since then, members of the public have laid poppies, letters and photographs on the tomb. Similar services and events are held throughout Canada. Some schools that are open on Remembrance Day hold special assemblies, lessons and presentations on armed conflicts and those who died in them.

Public life

Remembrance Day is a national public holiday for many federal government employees, private businesses, provincial governments and schools in Canada. Its status varies by province.

HISTORY

Each November, Poppies blossom on the lapels and collars of over half of Canada’s entire population. Since 1921, the Poppy has stood as a symbol of Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations. The Poppy also stands internationally as a “symbol of collective reminiscence”, as other countries have also adopted its image to honour those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

This significance of the Poppy can be traced to international origins.

The association of the Poppy to those who had been killed in war has existed since the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, over 110 years before being adopted in Canada. There exists a record from that time of how thickly Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France. This early connection between the Poppy and battlefield deaths described how fields that were barren before the battles exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended.

Just prior to the First World War, few Poppies grew in Flanders. During the tremendous bombardments of that war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing “popaver rhoes” to thrive. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the Poppy began to disappear again.

The person who was responsible more than any other for the adoption of the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance in Canada and the Commonwealth was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War. >> Full Article

Article Source: http://www.timeanddate.com

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