As I “came down” from the excitement of Hal-Con, and receiving a tweet from Garrett Wang (which I later realized he was doing just to be polite – since I tweet using this alias he wouldn’t know who I was), it was time to turn my attention to a more somber occasion – Remembrance day.
When I was in grade 11 I had the opportunity to attend a leadership summer camp organized and operated by the Royal Canadian Legion. For 10 days they tested our physical, emotional and intellectual limits, making us stronger in all ways by the end. I have fond memories of that camp and will always have a special place in my heart for the legion for giving me this opportunity.
Even when I was much younger, I always felt it very important to acknowledge and remember the sacrifices these men and women made so that we could be free to live our life to its fullest. I wear my poppy proudly immediately after Halloween, and I have attended the Remembrance Day parade and service every year (I can count only four occasions I missed – once when I was a child and had the flu, when I had my wisdom teeth out, when I was pregnant, and when my daughter was an infant). I am also outspoken against decorating for Christmas prior to Remembrance day.
But something that has always bothered me about Remembrance Day is its very symbol – the poppy. Every year, while I am among the first to purchase one, I find myself repeatedly in search of little tables staffed by veterans in grocery stores and shopping malls to continually replace the poppy (poppies) that are inevitably lost.
You’d think in the 100-odd years that the poppy campaign has been around the Legion would have come up with a better design. I know the Legion doesn’t have a lot of funding or resources to put into this kind of thing, but I’m sure some co-op students somewhere could come up with something better. The little pin does nothing to hold the poppies on, and if you twist it you risk multiple stabbings by the needle-sharp tip.
And while the custom is to leave ones poppy on the cenotaph after the service, what happens to all of them? Are they left to blow in the wind, off into the ocean to find their new home in a gyre of plastic on the ocean waves? Or do they lay in wait for some unsuspecting animal, hungry for its lunch, only to have its innards blocked or worse by the plastic bits.
It just seems awfully wasteful to me. Why not sell biodegradable paper poppies, with actual poppy seeds embedded in the paper? It seems to me I read about just such a thing last year, but I can’t find the article now (if anyone sees it please let me know!) And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – a fellow blogger has a much more detailed post on the same topic.
So this year I’ve decided to change my poppy purchasing habits. I will continue to support the Legion by making a monetary donation each year, but I will reuse my poppy, using a Canada flag pin or a safety pin to hold it on. I also have a poppy pin which I got from work that I can wear. Now, I’ve heard varying reports about whether it is proper to use any kind of pin to hold it on, but I guess I could stop wearing one altogether if they’d rather.
Don’t get me wrong, I mean no disrespect here, I just think, since they fought so hard to protect our freedom, the least we could do is protect the planet for them so that their legacy can in fact carry on.
(On the notion of reusing, my daughter and I have also spent some time reusing our Halloween glow sticks to make into butterflies, and took some leftover paint gathering dust in our basement off to the local paint recycler.)
If I can say one thing about the Remembrance Day service, my daughter thoroughly enjoyed the parade; as I learned Canada Day, she loves marching bands. Last Saturday evening was the Halifax Parade of Lights. I turn into a little giddy kid when it comes to Christmas. Not because of the presents (though I do love finding unique gifts for others) but the baking, the decorating, the lights. And I love the parade. But I feel guilty. Though the vehicles are only going at about 2 kph, there must still be some emissions (unless they are all hybrid-electric cars. Pretty sure they’re not, but that would be great, right?).
In the words of my husband, everything I do doesn’t have to be through the lens of the environment. But doesn’t it?Isnt that the point? Isn’t that how we should behave? Doesn’t it make me a hypocrite if I don’t? I suppose devoutly religious individuals battle the same questions.
In any case, I tried to put it out of my mind and enjoy the parade with my family. And now on to other adventures . . .
Update November 2015
This year I purchased an official poppy pin from the Legion, which you can see in the photo above. I’m told by the poppy-selling staff that it is acceptable to wear the pin through a poppy. Hopefully that will prevent me from losing it!