I am Canadian.
I am a patriot.
And I am proud of, and grateful to, the members of Canada’s armed forces, past and present for their service to our country.
In this country, November 11th is known as Remembrance Day, and is intended to honour our military men and women for their often unimaginable sacrifices in standing up for those who could not stand up for themselves, fighting for the freedom and peace of others.
I regularly observe the day through my tiny symbolic support, in wearing a red poppy on my lapel. This plastic red flower, with it’s annoying little stick pin, that I receive in exchange for dropping a few coins into the collection box, has become an important symbol to me.
As a small child, I recall on several occasions, unintentionally jabbing myself with the ill-positioned pin, or folding the flower (sans pin) in half and giggling at the resulting bright red girly lips. Not the strongest act of Remembrance or patriotism, I know, but the innocence of children should be excused, no, it should be embraced. Happily, I was not a child of war.
But I also remember In Flanders Fields, the poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, while on the front line of battle in World War I, after a friend was killed by enemy shelling. The words mean far more to me as an adult, with the ability to try to empathize with the brave soldiers and their often incredible sacrifices, made in the name of freedom and duty to the people.
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
Recently, I have become aware of a white poppy campaign, claiming to be in the name of peace, disavowing the red poppy as a symbol glorifying war. You can take your symbol of peace, and be proud of your ideals; as this is an opportunity afforded to you by the sacrifices of men and women of our military, and the fights they fought for you and me.
There is no glory in war, and few people desire to spend their (sometimes final) days being shot at, or targeted by bombs, and deprived of so many of the comforts we take for granted; The ones who are willing to put their lives on the line to uphold the peace, and fight against the oppression of others, guarding the safety of the weak and innocent, surely deserve our respect – as we sit on the sidelines at a safe distance, with our oversized lattés and free wifi, passing judgement.
This year, Veterans Affairs Canada posed the question: What if every day was Remembrance Day? This is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with. November 11th is an important day, to officially recognize the contribution of our military men and women, but let’s use the rest of the year to be appreciative of the peace and freedom that we enjoy because of them. That is not an act of glorifying war, that is what is known as gratitude.
So, in addition to wearing my poppy, I’d like to say thank you to our military, today and every day.
Peace to you all.