I think I will look for a red poppy pin

for next year’s Veterans Day. When we were in Canada last week, I noticed a lot of people wearing it. I didn’t know until this trip that Canadians make a whole week of it, combining Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and there’s complete support for their troops. So everyone sprouts a red pin.  ISHI wondered if the airport security people gave them a hard time about the metal, as he was busy taking off his belt, his watch, dumping his change into the bin. I informed him that I don’t take off my jewelry; it’s just the clunky stuff that’s a problem (as if…).

So what is the power of the pin? First of all, it’s visually stunning. And I think that’s enough to make it much more of a statement than the magnetic ribbons that we can throw on our cars. Or is it that branding your car is more of a statement than what you wear in the US ? Nah. It’s just easier, I think. We’re constitutionally lazy here.

So what’s more impressive, of course, is the reasoning behind the pin. Veterans Day is also known as Poppy Day there, as a link to the poem In Flanders Field (I guess apostrophes are in short supply around this season). You can read it for yourself here, if you’d like, and you can read more about how the poem was written here. Quite moving, really.

Of course, wouldn’t ya know, there is a movement now in Canada to change the red poppy pins to white as a protest against Canada’s participation in the war machine.  I just got this email with another link to the poppies from eNature and they just list the white business oh-so-matter-of-factly. You can read it here, if you so desire. So, of course, there’s push back to say, “Why can’t we just support our troops without making a political statement?”

But, of course, that is a political statement.

Which should be made.

P.S. Here is is a year later, now November 10, 2011–I am responding to this entry, if you want to take a look:). Thanks for coming and don’t forget to tell me what you think!


13 responses

  1. Pingback: no i haven’t found a red poppy pin yet « But Mostly Hers

  2. My dad was born on remembrance day, and he never missed a visit to the war memorial to remember those who gave their lives. I went with him whenever I could. As a child I was always so impressed that my dad had a whole parade with bag pipes and everything on his birthday!

    • That’s quite a legacy, to share your birthday with the departed… That’s so true that kids usually think it’s all about them!

  3. in grade school we had an assembly, the entire school gathering in the auditorium for Remembrance Day, this is the 60’s and 70’s, a reading of the poem and some other words but most memorably …. there was always a moment of silence. Canadians may not have all the hip and hurrah that Americans exhibit – but I think the subtleness of our actions speak loudly.

    Regarding the White Poppy – wile I heard of it a few years ago, it’s not visible here in the western prairies. @ 11- today observe 2 minutes of nothing …. in honour of the fallen.

    • Thank you for commenting, Marlene. I’m feeling somewhat guilty that I still have not bought such a red pin, although I’m trying to be aware of the day. Silence is golden. This is how they commemorate the similar day of memorial in Israel. Really, what can you say to truly honor those who have given their lives for our sakes?

  4. Pingback: looking out for red poppy pins today | But Mostly Hers

  5. Having grown up in the UK, I am, of course, familiar with the custom of wearing the red poppy on Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday. As to the colour – white poppies would make me think of the opium poppy, I suspect and frankly, the red is much more suitable – (a) because that WAS the colour of the poppies in the fields of Flanders, which gave rise to the custom and (b) because of the symbolism of the colour, representing the blood that was shed. I’ve no doubt that it was this custom, widespread in the British Commonwealth, that gave rise to the custom of wearing stickers on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) here in Israel with pictures of the red flower known as Blood of the Maccabees (Dam HaMaccabim). The difference is, in the UK, the poppy is given in return for a monetary donation, however small, to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Day Appeal. The RBL provides support (financial and emotional) to British servicemen and their families and dependants.

    • That certainly makes sense to me all around, from the tradition of the red coming from the British and the influence of the British Commonwealth all around the world (and yes, in Israel, of course, even in revolt against the British).
      Thanks for this information!

  6. I followed a link to this site from Pinterest:
    I would love to send you a poppy pin. Send me you address and I will pop one in the mail. they have a tendency to fall off our coats since they are held in place with a straight oin so i usually have a few spare. Most Canadians start to wear them on the first of November and try to leave them at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

    • Thank you for your generous offer. I now live in Israel, so it would be a bit further for you to send the poppy. The one that the woman handed me was indeed with a straight pin, and that is probably why I lost it.

    • Helen, thank you! My daughter received the pin in the mail yesterday, and she and I were both quite moved by your gesture. May the whole world remember the sacrifices that have been made by too many, and may we all merit true peace in the world.

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