The annual Poppy Campaign is underway: I gave a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion and a Veteran pinned this symbol of remembrance to my lapel.
The poppy has long been associated with battlefields. As long ago as the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century, it was observed that poppies grew thickly on the graves of fallen soldiers. These blood-red flowers came to symbolise the great sacrifice made in war.
In Flanders, northern France, poppies grew sparsely prior to World War I. When the earth was disturbed during heavy bombardments the chalk soil became rich with lime and the poppies appeared and thrived. When the lime disappeared, so did the poppies.
An American woman Moina Michael was inspired to wear a poppy as a personal pledge of "keeping faith with all who died" when she was working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' Headquarters in November 1918; two days before the Armistice was declared at 11 o'clock on 11th November 1918.
Poppies were first distributed in Canada in November 1921 and they are now an international symbol of remembrance.