“In Flanders fields the poppies blow…”
We learn these familiar lines of Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields” as early as grade school.
And every year, poppy boxes appear on shop counters, reception desks and in schools, encouraging us to don poppies over our hearts from the last Friday in October through to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month holds a historic meaning for us, as the time and date in 1918 when the Armistice that ended the First World War officially took effect. It has also come to hold symbolic significance as the time when we commemorate the sacrifices of those men and women who have served — and those who continue to serve — our country in combat throughout Canada’s history.
The poppy, of course, is another symbol from World War I that we retain. During four years of war, the field poppy was one of the first — and only — plants to grow in the churned soil of the battlefields in Belgium and France. It was poppies growing atop the graves of his fallen comrades that gave McCrae the inspiration for his iconic poem. Today, the poppy serves as a reminder of their sacrifice, and funds raised from poppy sales help the Royal Canadian Legion support our serving and retired Veterans and their families – a fitting expression of gratitude to accompany our remembrance.
Veterans from wars past and from ongoing conflicts deserve our thanks and respect. I myself had a grandmother and two grandfathers who served in the Second World War — I am proud to honour their service each year.
As Remembrance Day approaches, I encourage all of you to purchase a poppy in support of our veterans, and to plan to attend a memorial ceremony.
Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. Contact MLA Oakes’ constituency office: Phone: 250-991-0296; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.