Wherever we are, we should never forget to honour the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our countries. Today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, millions paused to observe two minutes of silence.
Most Canadians proudly wear a poppy for a week or so before November 11th to show their respect for veterans. Here’s an explanation of how the poppy came to be such a strong symbol of remembrance, from the Canoe.ca website.
Why the Poppy?
Today, fields of brilliant poppies still grow in France.
A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended.
During the tremendous bombardments of the First World War the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing ‘popaver rhoeas’ to thrive. When the war ended the lime was quickly absorbed, and the poppy began to disappear again.
After John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields was published in 1915 the poppy became a popular symbol for soldiers who died in battle.
Three years later an American, Moina Michael, was working in a New York City YMCA canteen when she started wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield.
During a 1920 visit to the United States a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France she decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. In November, 1921, the first poppies were distributed in Canada.
Thanks to the millions of people who wear a poppy each November, the symbolism of this little red plant has never died.
We are the Dead.
Wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day is a longstanding custom in Canada. All the money collected from donations for poppies goes to aiding programs for veterans and their families. Are there different customs observed in your country for November 11th?