As I do every year, on November 11th I will be present at our local cenotaph with veterans for our Remembrance Day ceremony.
I’ve been hearing debates surrounding the use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance of those who serve or have served in our nation’s military. Some say it’s a symbol of respect for our veterans. Some say it’s a symbol of support for warmongering. Some believe it’s a token of pride. Some believe it glorifies conflict. Some shame others for not wearing a poppy; some are shamed for wearing one. Some debate their views respectfully, some not so respectfully, some remain silent.
I choose to wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day and I will continue to do so, because it conveys a message which I couldn’t otherwise express. I don’t have the ability to have long conversations with every single veteran with whom I cross paths. Even if I did, I still find myself without adequate words to express everything that I feel.
So I’m writing it here.
On November 11th, I’ll be attending our local Remembrance Day ceremony as I do every year with my partner and daughter. I will be wearing a poppy.
By wearing it, I’m not trying to make a point or take a stand on my views of war. It’s not to express political notions, nor to look good in the eyes of others, nor out of conformity nor rebellion, nor to recruit others to wear one too.
I simply wear a poppy so that, when you look over at me, you’ll have a visual, tangible expression of my solemn respect and honour.
To you, and to all who have worn your country’s uniform, past and present, in war and peacetime, domestic and allied: thank you for your service.
History shows there is no insignificant military service. No matter in which branch of the Forces you serve or have served, when or how long you served or in what capacity, I deeply honour and thank you for your commitment and loyalty to our country.
Thank you to your families and loved ones. As the partner of a Canadian Forces Navy veteran, daughter of an Air Force veteran, and family and friend to many who are serving or have served in their country’s Forces, I also wear the poppy to honour their distinct sacrifices and challenges.
Symbols can be helpful to express what words cannot. If nothing else, on November 11th, when you look over and see this poppy on my lapel, please know that it is worn with an understanding that no words can ever adequately convey my gratitude for your service.
And how thankful I am for your part in ensuring that I am free to wear it.