A poppy more important than you think

Even if we spare only the moment of silence observed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 we should all try to spare a sliver of our busy lives

Remembrance Day is once more upon us and in previous years the Citizen has urged you to take a few minutes at this time of year to talk to a veteran, learn a little more about the wars Canadians have fought and died in and why they’ve done so, to remember why we must never forget, and to honour those who paid the ultimate price.

All of those things are indeed important and still hold true.

Even if we spare only the moment of silence observed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 we should all try to spare a sliver of our busy lives for remembrance.

But this year, in the few days left before Remembrance Day, we hope you’ll consider picking up a poppy from a store counter and putting a small donation in the box in payment.

Poppies for Remembrance Day are quintessentially Canadian.

As a symbol for remembrance they trace back to Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s seminal poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

We began using poppies for Remembrance Day in 1921, so most of us have grown up seeing them all around us during the first few weeks of November; indeed, it is difficult to imagine the run-up to Remembrance Day without them.

As the symbol of our collective vow to never forget they are vital. Along with that pledge comes the intention that as long as we remember, we will work as hard as we can to prevent such globe-wide conflicts in the future because of the terrible cost or war.

But we should also pick up a poppy because of what that dollar or two in the box means for the recipients of the funds.

The Legion Poppy Fund is used to provide “financial assistance and support to Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need.”

It goes for things as basic as food and shelter, to care facilities and medical appliances.

Medication, clothing, heating costs, education transition programs, educational bursaries, drop-in centres and meals on wheels are provided due to the little bit we spare to pick up a new poppy each year.

Veterans past and present sometimes have had a hard time coming back to life as civilians.

Support can be scant, or fleeting, while medical conditions both mental and physical can linger for years, even for life.

The kind of support offered by the Poppy Fund can quietly make a huge difference in the lives of the men and women, and their families, who have served our country.

So grab a poppy this November and put a coin or two in the box.

It is, really, the least we can do.