The Poppy Flag is flying and fluttering in the breeze at the flagpole at the municipal hall in Sooke. The flag itself only symbolizes the poppy, which in turn symbolizes Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.
The Canadian federal government proclaimed November 11 as Remembrance Day in 1931. It was on November 11 in 1918, that the Armistace was signed, ending the First World War. Later it became Canada’s day to honour those who died while serving their country in the Second World War, the Korean War as well as those conflicts such as the Gulf War, the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovinia and most recently Afghanistan.
The poppy received international attention in Canadian Doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McRae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” The poppy was originally worn as a symbol of Remembrance by an American woman Moira Michael, who as a YMCA canteen worker, wore a poppy in memory of the millions who died during World War I. In 1921, a French woman, Madame Guerin learned of the custom and decided to use the proceeds from hand-made poppies to assist destitute children in her war ravaged country. In turn, she convinced Canadian veterans to adopt the poppy as this country’s symbol of Remembrance. The first poppies appeared in Canada in 1921 and in 1926 the Royal Canadian Legion assumed responsibility for their distribution.
Tom Lott, chair of the Poppy Committee, said each year they raise between $15,000 and $20,000,which is in turn donated to various causes.
“We support veterans as much as we can,” he said.
Lott mentioned three programs supported in part by the sale of poppies. One is a veteran’s transition program which helps deal with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome; another is a program at BCIT which helps veterans train when they have no salable skills; and the last is support for “lost” veterans who may end up on the streets. The support now goes mostly to younger veterans as those who served in the World Wars are becoming fewer in number with each passing year.
The Poppy Campaign ends on Nov. 10. The Candlelight Vigil takes place at 6 p.m. on Nov. 10, and the Remembrance Day parade to the Legion and laying of wreaths at the cenotaph begins at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.