Poppies: Old and New

Next Monday, November 11, is Remembrance Day in Canada. It used to be called Armistice Day and a minute of silence was observed at 11:00 a.m. (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) to commemorate the “official’ end of The Great War. I write official because numerous soldiers were killed after the time when the “guns fell silent”. Better communication would have saved them, but alas word of the end was slow to spread in those days.

When I was a boy people wore poppies to commemorate the fallen. This symbol originated with the John MaCrae poem “In Flanders’ Fields“. Those poppies were red, with a green centre.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

Then for some reason they switched the green piece for black. No big deal. Except for reasons unknown to me, the newer version refuses to stay pinned on. I recall the old green “classic” poppy being pinned on once, and staying put. That little green piece of felt must have played a major role in keeping poppies in place on lapels and hats!

I implore all Canadians to buy and wear a poppy every year at this time. And I ask the Royal Canadian Legion to consider putting the green piece back. 

1 thought on “Poppies: Old and New

  1. Linda Blackwell Phelan November 5, 2019 — 2:52 pm

    Excellent column. I’m remembering with a smile your mum’s “eternal poppy” that, I recall, lived on the edge of a picture frame near the door. Cheers, Linda

    Sent from my iPad


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