A discovery that we made this last week is that Poppies and Remembrance Day are not commonly associated in France. Or really anywhere other than the Commonwealth.
Our lapels had an empty spot until the night of November 10th, when Sarah stopped by the Canadian Embassy in the hopes that they had imported some for the expats in town. With our poppies firmly attached to our lapels, we spent two days fielding the common question: Nice brooch… where’d you get it?
To which we were able to share a bit of Canadiana in response.
I’d go on here about it, but I found a nice summary on the CBC this morning that I think is worth putting up.
The association between the poppy and war dates back to the Napoleonic wars, when a writer saw a field of poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers.
During the Battle of Ypres in 1915, Canadian Lt.-Col. John McCrae was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields on sighting the poppies growing beside a grave of a close friend who had died in battle.
The poem was a great inspiration in adopting the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance in Canada, France, the U.S, Britain and Commonwealth countries.
The first poppies were distributed in Canada in 1921.
Today the volunteer donations from the distribution of millions of poppies is an important source of revenue for the Royal Canadian Legion that goes toward helping ex-servicemen and women buy food, and obtain shelter and medical attention.
And of course, the referenced Poem.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow