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Why Poppies Are Important to Canadians

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

If you grew up in Canada, you might remember reading the poem In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. For those who haven’t heard it before, the poem is about the tragedy of soldiers’ deaths and explores themes of life and death, duty, and war. McCrae is thought to have written the poem after the Second Battle of Ypres where there were over 6500 Canadian casualties.

Throughout my twelve years of elementary school and high school, we read this poem every year at our annual Remembrance Day ceremonies. It carried (and still carries) an important message about sacrifice and duty. The poem is part of many other Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country, and in other parts of the world as well. 

So why is this particular poem so important in Canadian culture? Ever since it was written in 1915, the poem has become a symbol to honour the sacrifices of those who fought in World War One. Its imagery vividly describes how poppies grew on the battlefields after World War One “between the crosses, row on row”. The poem is meaningful for many Canadians and will most likely remain significant for generations to come.

To honour our fallen soldiers, many Canadians wear poppies as a sign of respect in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. Poppies are distributed by local legion branches and volunteers starting on the last Friday of October until November 11. Poppies are generally worn on the left breast, over your heart. Even though poppies are technically free, I definitely encourage you to make a donation, no matter how small! Donations go to providing financial support and assistance to veterans and their families. This includes medical training and research, bursaries, emergency assistance for basic needs like food, shelter, etc, and more. 

Honour the brave Canadians who sacrificed their lives in World War One by wearing a poppy this Remembrance Day.