What does it mean to wear a poppy if you've never seen a battlefield or lost someone to war? As Remembrance Day approaches, I have beem sporting the famed red flower and reflecting upon this commemoration.
During the moment of silence, I genuinely take the time to reflect upon the sacrifices soldiers have made throughout history. However, the memorial is a somewhat foreign concept for me to grasp, as I have never really experienced any hardship or witnessed a war first-hand.
In the second grade, I remember a classmate whose father was soon to be sent overseas to the conflict in the Middle East. Instead of playing at recess, she would sit by herself and sob (despite my futile efforts to cheer her up), fearsome of what would become of her father overseas.
My own mother was a witness of the Vietnam War, her journey to seek refuge in Canada a result of the dangers of war. She has told me memories of friends left behind because they did not have money to leave Vietnam and of the overall bloodiness of it all.
My reflection continued in my English class when we started reading the Canadian novel, The Wars by Timothy Findley. The story chronicles the experience of a soldier, Robert Ross, during World War I and all the aspects that come along with it. As Findley describes the inefficient nature of trench warfare and the stinging of chlorine on the battlefield, for a second, I was fooled into believing that I was a witness of the war. In passages about grieving family members, I felt like I too had lost a loved one to the evils of war. Through his novel, Findley made me more knowledgeable about the War that would end all wars, the reason that we honour Remembrance Day.
In my eyes, those elderly men, who sit with a cardboard box of poppies and a donation tin every November, are living history. Their wrinkles betray their age as a true sign of their experience in war. A red poppy is more than an acknowledgement of those who have fallen honourably for their country.
What is often ignored are the after-effects of war, such as post-traumatic stress as well as the physical state of many soldiers who survive. After witnessing many horrors on the battlefield, the transition back to civilian life is a difficult one, not to mention severe injuries, which makes for a challenge that some are not ready or capable to face.
For me, wearing a red poppy is a symbol of respect and an oath to never forget, and it is an action that demonstrates our commitment to supporting those who survive. The donations collected go towards scooters, food, shelter and other essentials needed by veterans.
With the utmost respect, I salute our honourable veterans and those enlisted in our military who courageously defend. One can only dream that war will one day be considered obsolete.Login or register to post comments. All comments have to go through a queue for approval to keep the nasty stuff out, but we'll post yours as soon as we can.