Wearing The Poppy

One of the great things about being a parent is that it gives you the chance to reflect on past decisions that you have made and actions that you take.

I recall my four year old son asking "Dad, why do you wear a poppy?" 

In answering my son, I gave the standard reply -- that I like many other people wear the poppy to remember the sacrifice of those who served the cause peace and freedom. His question however, caused me to ponder further why I dutifully wear the poppy each November.

For my family the poppy and Remembrance Day give pause to remember my uncle Alex Gray who died as a stretcher bearer during the Korean War. I never met him, but my mom made sure the memory of her brother was not forgotten. His name as well as his life story have been passed on to many of her grandchildren. Of course, with the thoughts of him comes my supreme gratitude for the sacrifice of thousands of others who have made this country a place to raise a family in peace and with freedom.

   Alex Gray 

I am very proud to wear a poppy as a way of paying my respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

I guess that is why I feel a sense of guilt if I am not wearing my poppy because it fell off for what seems to be the hundredth time. While wearing the poppy is not unique to Canada, I appreciate the opportunity to wear a symbol that conveys a message of great significance. Fortunately, I had my poppy pinned tight during a Remembrance Day years ago while in New York for a trade show. Some Americans were curious of the red flower that I and other Canadians in attendance were wearing. As I explained the flower's significance to them, many seemed somewhat envious of our modest gesture that is done across our country to convey a simple, yet very important message that we as Canadians remember.

Usually I am not one for wearing symbols to make statements. I believe that one's actions -- not symbols -- give true indication of a person's character and beliefs. Yet, I wear the poppy each November because it is symbolic of something that I believe transcends making a political statement or showing support for some cause of the day.

The poppy serves a greater purpose to remind us of the duality of mankind. While we pay respect to the angels among us and their sacrifice, we must also take heed of the seeds of conflict that haunt us still -- lest we forget the horrors of war and tyranny.

For those who are old enough to have lived through some of the darkest times of our history, it must be very heart-warming to see so many young people wearing the poppy. We must always keep in mind, however, that as we pass the poppy on to the next generation to wear its significance will only endure if the meaning of this important symbol is passed on as well.