Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance and gratitude

photo credit: Ian Britton,
Living in the upper Midwest, our proximity to Canada exposes us to some customs we might not otherwise have known. One of those customs is Remembrance Day.

Canadians observe Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I hostilities (Nov. 11, 1918), and the same day Veterans' Day is observed in the United States.

On Remembrance Day, Canadians remember those who died in armed conflicts; wearing a red poppy made of paper or fabric symbolizes the memory of those who have died. In fact, that's how I originally learned about the holiday — one year on Nov. 11, I was at a conference; several attendees were Canadian, and most were wearing poppies.

Why poppies?

Poppies are featured in the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian physician John McCrae, who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in World War I. It's said he wrote it after witnessing the death of his friend.

And poppies tend to grow on the ground of battlefields and fresh graves, because of the seeds' ability to lie underground for years and spring up when the soil is disturbed. (There might be a parable or spiritual application here... but I won't beat you over the head with it.)

To those who have served, thank you for your sacrifice.



  1. Aside from being a nice post, I wanted to thank you for helping me be the only person in my in-laws family who got two of the questions on Jeopardy on Thursday - specifically what do poppies being worn have a reference to (the poem) and what is Veteran's Day called in Canada.

    I love schooling them at Jeopardy, and because I read your blog, I was able to do it. Thanks! :)

  2. Happy to have helped in the family competition! :)


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