Do you know the story of the poppy?
During the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, massive amounts of lives were lost and devastation occurred to the infrastructure of Europe. According to Legion.ca, “During the tremendous bombardments of the war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing the ‘popaver rhoeas’ to thrive.” This means that regions of land that previously could not sustain poppies were suddenly able to grow them in record numbers. The website also suggests that, “When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the poppy began to disappear again.”
In 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, ON wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields” in honour of a fellow soldier who died in the First World War. The poem was published in a magazine and inspired many, including an American teacher named Moina Michael. Michael made a pledge to wear a poppy flower as a sign of remembrance, and many followed suit...
Five years later, Madame Guerin from France latched on to the custom and decided to sell poppies to raise money for children in war-torn areas of France. In 1912, the Canadian Legion also adopted the poppy as its symbol of remembrance. The poppy is safeguarded as a sacred symbol by the Legion, a symbol to honour the sacrifice of Canada’s veterans.
In case you were wondering, the Legion Poppy Fund (money collected when people buy a poppy pin as well as through other donations) provides financial assistance and support to veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need. These efforts include:
Grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances and equipment, essential home repairs and emergency shelter or assistance
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
Accessibility modifications to assist Veterans with disabilities
Educational bursaries for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Veterans
Promotion and administering of Remembrance activities to ensure Canadians never forget the sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans
While war is abhorrent, we support Canadian veterans and their longstanding tradition to being peacekeepers, for “there but for the grace of God go we”. We are thankful. And we remember.