There’s a group in PEI called the Island Peace Committee that has been distributing white poppies. The IPC says that their white poppies stand for non-violent conflict resolution. The implication seems to be that the red poppies somehow denote support for armed conflicts (i.e. wars) or even glorify them.
This has, needless to say, upset a lot of people, including the Royal Canadian Legion. Generally speaking, the white poppies are being disrespectful to the brave men and women who have fought and died for their country. Aggravating this is the fact that the Island Peace Committee is distributing them at the same time the Legion’s Poppy Campaign is underway.
The red poppies are not glorifying war. They are symbols of “Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations”. Though they’ve been this symbol since 1921, their association with those who were killed in wars can be traced back to the Napoleonic Wars in the 1800s, more than 110 years before being adopted in Canada.
Personally, I wear a poppy to remember people I never knew but who died serving my country and family members like my great-uncle Fred who died in 1944. I also wear it as a sign of respect for those who have served and survived, such as my neighbour, Jack, who I have seen in the crowd shots in the television coverage of more than one Remembrance Day ceremony. Jack told me a couple of days ago that he has been asked to lay a wreath on behalf of our MP at the local Remembrance Day ceremony this Thursday afternoon, something he is proud of.
It’s important to understand that the red poppies are for those who died and not for the wars they died in. To suggest that they stand for anything else is incredibly disrespectful of their sacrifice.