Honouring Freedom

Remembrance Day is next Friday and today, I’d like to share a little history about the flower that’s become a well-known symbol of this day.

The origins of the Poppy’s use in Remembrance date back a full hundred years before it was adopted in Canada. During the Napoleonic Wars a news correspondent noted how quickly Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in French Flanders.

No one strengthened Canada’s bond to the Poppy more than Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer, who served in the First World War. The soldier-poet penned “In Flanders Fields” on a scrap of paper while serving on the Western Front. To this day the words of that poem remain enshrined in the inner-most thoughts and hearts of all soldiers who hear them.

In the United States, a woman working in a New York City canteen began wearing a Poppy in memory of the thousands who died on First World War battlefields. Moina Michael’s simple show of respect inspired others, and the American Legion soon adopted the Poppy as the symbol of Remembrance.

In 1920, a French woman, Anna E. Guerin, visited the U.S. and was also inspired. After returning to France, she used handmade Poppies to raise money for destitute children in war-torn areas of the country.

Canada’s connection to the Poppy gained official status when it was adopted by the Great War Veterans’ Association in 1921. Since then, generations of Canadians have proudly worn the Poppy each November.

This week we have the privilege of paying tribute to the veterans who served our country and fought for the freedom we enjoy today.

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