The Symbolism of a Poppy

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Memorial Drive & 10 Street NW

Yesterday, November 11, is a day to remember: The First World War started one hundred years ago. Admittedly, I’m a bit tongue-tied. Time weighs very heavily on me.

We remember those who fought for the freedom of others and the freedom of this great country. Every Canadian has the exceptional privilege of living here. On this significant date, I am mindful of the young, yet robust history of our country – and just how awesome Canada is.

Year over year, the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign raises Canadian donations in exchange for poppy pins in support of services for veterans. Of course other countries, too put on poppies, but I chose to focus on the experiences of my home. Canadians wear the poppy to show our support. We wear the poppy as a visual promise to never forget the history and sacrifice. We wear the poppy because that’s what Canadians do.

The thing about the poppy is that it says so much in a rather simple emblem. The flash of red affixed above one’s heart is a quick symbol of our national spirit, the sentiment and our compassion. We say a lot by merely donning the poppy.

I swell with national pride in knowing my small gesture of wearing this symbol means so much. This is a visual matter beyond style. As this has been an excruciating year for Canadians, I urge that it is ever more reason to show your support. Lest we forget.

I’ll leave you with In Flanders Fields written by Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae in 1915.

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.
— Major John McCrae