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The Poppy

As the autumn leaves turn brilliant orange, yellow and brown with the season, a tiny but significant flourish of red appears in early November on jacket lapels all over Canada.  The small plastic red flower  with a black center is the poppy, and it is a symbol for Remembrance Day.  This special day is marked by services at 11:00am on November 11th in many places in cities all around the country and honours the memory of over 100,000 Canadian soldiers who died in the First and Second World Wars.

The poppy became a symbol of remembrance when it was mentioned in the poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by Canadian surgeon John McCrae.  The doctor wrote the poem after burying his friend Alexis Helmer, age 22, during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium in May 1915.

Most countries have had some experience or another with war.  Remembrance Day is not about victories or losses, but about recognizing the senseless loss of life, and the hope for no further wars in the future.  By wearing the poppy, Canadians show their support for this cause.

You can find poppies, available by donation, at many shopping centres and Tim Horton’s restaurants.