Proud to pin on a poppy

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster shares poppy pride

Besides dropping temperatures, there are a lot of ways to notice the changing season.

As October turns toward November, leaves start to fall, Canadian football wraps up its season, and the Vernon Vipers gear up towards challenging for a seventh national championship.

But perhaps the most significant and heartwarming sign of the season is the thousands of poppies worn proudly on Canadians’ chests – appropriately enough, right over the heart.

While poppies for Remembrance Day have become a worldwide phenomenon, it’s worth remembering their Canadian origins. The poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae, a field surgeon during the First World War.

His words, “if we break faith with us who die we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields,” are just as poignant and haunting today as they were in 1915 – more so, considering McCrae also lost his life during the war.

In recent years, some have objected to wearing poppies. While I sympathize with sadness over seeing young Canadians still giving their lives in places like Afghanistan, I think that makes wearing a poppy even more relevant.

The poppies you see on chests and for sale around town are provided by the Royal Canadian Legion.

There are two legion branches in Vernon-Monashee – branch 25 in Vernon, and branch 167 in Lumby. In both communities, and indeed towns and cities across Canada, the legion is an invaluable contributor and cornerstone.

In B.C., the Royal Canadian Legion is the largest non-profit provider of veteran /seniors housing with more than 4,500 units in 70 facilities, a community investment of approximately $94 million.

It volunteers more than 600,000 hours, and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes as diverse as bursaries and medical research.

Over the years, both local branches have donated countless thousands of dollars to various causes and community organizations – and not just veterans. Legion funds also help secondary schools, disadvantaged youth and the disabled.

Perhaps just as important, the Legion provides invaluable support for our veterans.

Besides creating a community of support and network of friends for veterans, it also sponsors causes like the veterans transition program, a counseling and trauma repair course; and Honour House which provides temporary complimentary accommodation for Canadian Forces members, veterans and first responders requiring medical treatment in Vancouver.

Wearing a poppy doesn’t mean you’re pro-war, if there is such a thing. I don’t think anyone is pro-war.

Wearing a poppy signifies your support of the men and women of our current armed forces, but also your gratitude for the veterans who risked – and all too often, gave – their lives for their country.

Wearing a poppy may be a small gesture, granted. But if you don’t think veterans appreciate that gesture, just ask one. They do.

I’d say that’s worth wearing a poppy.

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