In the spring of 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote his haunting poem "In Flanders Fields" at the second Battle of Ypres. The poem opened with a reference to poppies...and they quickly became a powerful and inspiring symbol of gratitude and hope for war Veterans and survivors. Today, the tradition of wearing poppies endures as a sign of respect and thanks for those who served Canada in uniform at home and around the world.
At one minute before 11:00 am, official national ceremonies will commence at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Presided over by the Governor General, our most poignant national ceremony will include the bugling of the "Last Post", the laying of wreaths including the Silver Cross Mother on behalf of mothers whose children have died in conflict, gun salutes, the bells of the Peace Tower tolling the hour and a march by armed forces personnel and veterans.
At the end of the ceremony, the general public will place their personal poppies on the top of the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the remains of an unknown First World War soldier were laid to rest in 2000.. This tradition began on the first Remembrance Day following the installation of the tomb, when Canadians in attendance spontaneously placed their poppies on the tomb.
Worn on our lapels and near our hearts, poppies represent eternal sleep, death and peace and remind us of the importance of our Veterans and their sacrifice.
In my garden, poppies return each spring bringing another opportunity for remembrance, gratitude and my hopeful optimism for continued freedom, peace and cooperation among Canadians and citizens of the world.