With Remembrance Day this week, we thought it might be a good idea to give a little insight into one of its most enduring parts- the poppy. Doubly so, since this year marks the 100th anniversary of its introduction in Canada. And after a century, it remains a simple, yet elegant, way to remember those who sacrificed for this country.
It was originally called ‘Armistice Day’, in recognition of the agreement that ended the First World War. Starting in 1919 (a year after the war ended), Armistice Day encouraged all countries in the British Commonwealth, including Canada, to observe a moment of silence at 11 AM on November 11th- the day the agreement was signed.
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Fast forward a couple of years, and Madame Anna Guérin, a French woman, was inspired by an iconic poem written by a Canadian Medical Officer, John McCrae. That poem, In Flanders Fields, stirred her to use the poppy as a symbol of support for those fallen, and raise funds for their loved ones or those who came back.
Although Guérin’s idea was introduced to the America Legion, the Great War Veterans Association (now the Royal Canadian Legion) caught wind of the idea and was producing the ‘Remembrance Poppy’ by 1921. Crazy fact- the use of the Remembrance Poppy actually predates the ‘real’ Remembrance Day, which was officially adopted by Canada in 1931.
Since then, the Remembrance Poppy has become a universal symbol not just of the First World War, but all ensuing conflicts wherein Canadians served and lost their lives. Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Legion has become a go-to option for all veterans and their families seeking financial, mental, and all other kinds of help.
Not that our opinion really matters here, but we find the symbolism of it all to be quite poignant. A French person, whose countrymen fought alongside Canadians in war, comes across a touching bit of Canadian war poetry and uses it to make life better for all those who have seen the horrors of battle. It’s been 100 years, and it’s still as impactful as when it was first introduced.