This is offensive on so many levels. I get it – we should be promoting peace over war. I don’t think you’ll find any veterans who wouldn’t prefer that the wars didn’t happen at all. Similarly, there are plenty of men and women in the armed forces who sacrifice themselves for peace – Canada has a long history of participating in peacekeeping. So remembrance of those who gave their lives or limbs defending peace and freedom IS promoting peace. It is reminding us all of the huge price and responsibility for maintaining peace and freedom. Lest we forget, we will find ourselves sacrificing another significant part of a generation defending our already hard-won freedoms.
Part of the argument for Canadians to abstain from the red poppy is that Canada was never under attack in either World War, and so our veterans were really fighting for someone else’s freedom.
Please get your facts straight: Canada was in fact attacked in WWII, by the Japanese at Estavan Point in BC, and with german submarines infiltrating St. John’s harbour and attacking Bell Island. There were also numerous attacks by u-boats on Canadian convoys. And, as a part of the British commonwealth, it was indeed our freedoms that were under attack in both WWI and WWII. To say that those who died did not die for their country is both disrespectful and shameful.
But both of those arguments are trite and insulting. Canadian men and women did and do put themselves in danger and sacrifice their lives in the name of peace, freedom, democracy and humanity. They go to places where they are often not welcomed, to try to protect ordinary people from harm in conflict situations, to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid, to negotiate and enforce ceasefires, and to enable other societies the opportunity for democracy, or at least self-determination. That we only take one day of the year to acknowledge these brave and selfless Canadians is not too much to ask.
The red poppy is not a glorification of war, but a remembrance of those who sacrificed during times of war in order to preserve peace and freedom. It is the symbol selected and preserved by the veterans and survivors of those conflicts that have both given and taken so much, so we can have a society that allows freedoms and rights that so many of us take for granted.
Want to wear a white poppy? Fine – have a day of remembrance/hope/whatever for peace. But don’t subsume this incredibly important and honourable time when we remember and thank those who protected us, our nation and our freedom.