AS I WAS SAYING: Why I wear a poppy


AS I WAS SAYING: Why I wear a poppy

As we approach Remembrance Day on November 11th, it is customary to find the familiar boxes of poppies to be worn as we remember those who fought for our freedoms in past wars, and who serve us today.

As so often happens in chat rooms and social media posts, new opinions emerge on long held beliefs and the poppy is not immune to that.

There are those who believe that the poppy has evolved from a token of remembrance to a symbol that glorifies war.  Ironically, men and women gave up their lives in service of Canada to preserve the rights of people to profess such a belief.

I, however, am not one of them.  I am not angry with people who trod on the poppy nor would I ever engage in an Internet (or otherwise) shouting match to prove them wrong.  

What I will do, however, is try to do a better job of explaining why I think that the poppy is NOT an outdated symbol or simply a fundraiser for the legion.

I wear a poppy foremost because I am the son of a veteran.  All of the brothers on my father’s side fought in WW II, and all but one came home.  My uncle Joseph Philbin is buried in the Canadian cemetery in Ortona, Italy. 

I wear a poppy because I never knew him, but I thank my uncle for fighting for a nephew he would never meet and wouldn’t be born for another 20 years after his death.

I wear a poppy as a symbol of remembrance.  It is more than just “remembering”.  It is the belief that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. 

My poppy demonstrates my hope that catastrophes that befell past generations must never occur again.

I wear a poppy as a symbol of gratitude.  My poppy exudes a grateful thank you to all veterans past and present who put themselves in harm’s way leaving hearth, home and family that today we may be free of tyranny.

I wear a poppy as a symbol of my love of life and freedom.  My poppy is a visible sign that life is a precious gift worth fighting for.  Life reaches its fullness when we are truly free. 

The current fight against terrorism is a worthy one for it seeks to challenge our freedoms in the name of safety.  My poppy will not allow any sacrifice made in the cause of freedom to be tarnished or diminished because some have decided to trade it for a lesser goal.

Finally, I wear a poppy to support all that their sacrifices meant.  They believed there is something greater than themselves and that we become our best selves when we serve. 

My poppy represents my willingness to serve my family as they left theirs behind and my community as they left friends behind. 

As the poem “In Flanders Field” so eloquently states “To you from failing hands we throw the torch.”  To not catch that torch and grasp it with all the strength we can muster would be shameful.

One poppy can say a lot.  A lot about the person who wears it, and everything about the people they remember.

To all who have served, are serving and will serve…thank you from a very grateful Canadian.

Read More: Opinion, As I Was Saying, Quinte


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