How the poppy came to symbolize remembrance

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

Fall is a time of familiar sights. The leaves changing colour and falling down as colder winds blow in, carved pumpkins glowing in the night, and red poppies fastened to the lapels of millions of Canadians as a sign of remembrance.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

We all wear them, but what is the significance of this gesture? How did this plastic red flower with the sharp pin become the de facto symbol of Canadian military history?

Between the crosses row by row

The poppy is a flower which dotted the landscapes of some of the most ferocious battles fought during the First World War.

That mark our place; and in the sky

It has been said that the flower gained its famous red hue from the blood of the soldiers who fell during those battles. Canadian soldier John McCrae mythologised the flower in his timeless piece ‘In Flanders Fields’.

 The larks, still bravely singing, fly

In the poem, McRae touched upon universal truths about war in a lyrical and heartbreaking manner. World War I was a defining moment in Canadian military history, and his words managed to encapsulate the horror, heroism, and sacrifice of an entire generation of people. The words ring true even today, over 100 years later.

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

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