With Remembrance Day fast approaching, you will see people wearing poppies on their lapels, sweaters and jackets, just about everywhere. Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem 'In Flanders Fields', written in 1915 is the basis of the red flower; that’s over 100 years ago. Poppies are worn to commemorate fallen soldiers of past wars dating back to the First World War, leading right up to today. There really isn’t etiquette as to where you should wear a poppy; however, I think it you should wear it on the left side and keep it close to your heart, knowing the price people paid for us to live with freedom.
Remembrance Day, Nov 11th, marks the signing of the armistice denoting the end of ‘The Great War’ World War 1. That is why, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, we stop and pay homage to our glorious dead with two minutes of silence. As Terry Kelly put it in his song, it is a ‘Pittance of time’ to honour the Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives in protecting ours and others freedoms and rights. That being said, the 117,000 Canadians that died for freedom also gave you the freedom not to wear a poppy.
If you ever wondered what our Rights and Freedoms are, here is a summary list of the rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression
Freedom of conscience and religion
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
The right to vote
The right to hold office (become a politician or 'an elected representative')
The right to move around
The right to life, liberty and security of the person
The right to a fair trial
The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
The right not to be subject to cruel or unusual punishment
The right to an interpreter in legal proceedings
The right to equal benefit and protection of the law without discrimination
Minority language educational rights
I think that it is disrespectful if you don’t honour our Veterans, but you do have that right. Just stop and think about the price that was paid for you to have those rights.
Poppies are normally worn on Remembrance Day, but can be worn at other ceremonies honouring Veterans, particularly funerals. Now keep in mind, the Canadian Legions Poppy Campaign, which runs across the country during the two weeks before Remembrance Day, is, as I understand it, their largest fund raising initiative of the year.
Ever wonder what the money that is raised by purchasing a poppy is use for? I can tell you what it is not used for:
- It doesn’t go to Legion administration.
- It doesn’t pay the Branch bills like: Hydro, Phone.
- It is not used for Branch renovations or to keep the doors open.
- It is not used for loans or scholarships.
- It is not used for Veteran funerals. (There there are other funds that can pay for those things, such as government social programs.)
Basically, the monies raised isn’t for the Legion; they use it to take care of our veterans that served in the military and served to protect our and others freedoms.
Poppy money is meant to raise awareness and support veterans in need in situations where there isn’t funding to help them.
According to the Canadian Legion Use of Poppy Funds http://www.legion.ca/honour-remember/the-poppy-campaign/use-of-poppy-funds/ , here is what the monies raised are used for.
Poppy Funds are held in trust at every level of the Legion and the uses of these trust funds are strictly controlled. Through your donations to the Poppy Fund, the Legion provides financial assistance and support to currently serving and retired Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need.
The following highlights the use of Poppy Trust Funds.
- Grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances and equipment, essential home repairs and emergency shelter or assistance
- Housing accommodation and care facilities
- Funding for Veteran Transition Programs that are directly related to the training, education and support needs of Veterans and their families
- Comforts for Veterans and their surviving spouses who are hospitalized and in need
- Veterans visits, transportation, reading programs and day trips
- Accessibility modifications to assist Veterans with disabilities
- Educational bursaries for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Veterans
- Community drop-in centres, meals-on-wheels, and seniors services in communities where Veterans would benefit
- Community medical appliances, medical training and medical research which will assist in the care of Veterans in the community
- Support the work of Legion Command and Branch Service Officers across Canada in assisting and representing Veterans
- Donations for relief of disasters declared by federal or provincial governments which impact Veteran in those communities
- Promotion and administering of Remembrance activities to ensure Canadians never forget the sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans
So how much does a poppy cost?
The Dominion Command and Provincial Command won’t disclose the cost, but some legions have calculated it out to be around 17 cents per poppy. So keep in mind, you do not actually buy Poppies, you donate, so now that you know what the Poppy Campaign is all about, donate generously and if you lose a Poppy, donate again.
Remember, it is respectful to wear a poppy to honour our Veteran’s, but please don’t reuse it next year. You may think you are doing the right thing by wearing it but, in reality you are not helping the cause.
Today, the World War II generation is leaving us at an alarming rate. This is the generation that gave so much to each of us, and to the world. It is quietly receding into the pages of history. Just remember, they did what they did so others may live….