Monday, November 2, 2009

Poppy Time in Canada Again

Every November in Canada, aging veterans occupy strategic positions in Metro stations, suburban train stations and elsewhere to pin fake Poppies onto the coats of the citizens, in the lead up to November 11th--Rememberance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the US, the anniversary of the end of World War I.  One exchanges a loonie or toonie ($1 or $2 coin) for being pinned, and the city of Montreal, hardly a hotbed of patriotism, quickly becomes filled with poppy-pinned coats. 

The poppies are symbolic here because of their role in one of the most famous poems to emerge from the First World War, In Flanders Field

And the poppies are doubly ironic these days, as the Canadians have lost 133 soldiers over the past eight years in Afghanistan, often in or near fields of poppies.  The generation of Veterans from World War II is disappearing into time with those from the Korean War just behind them.  With few battles in between, the war in Afghanistan, albeit involving a smaller group of soldiers here, will provide the next generation of poppy-pinners. 

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