As we near Remembrance Day many of us will wear a poppy as a sign of respect and gratitude for those who served in uniform to protect and ensure the freedom of Canada.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow… In the spring of 1915 when Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote this poem at the second Battle of Ypres he likely never imagined how the poppy would come to represent gratitude and hope for Veterans and survivors of WW I.
Hand made poppies were first created and offered for sale in France by Madame Guerin. The funds raised were used to assist children in worn-torn areas of France. Taking up Madame Guerin’s example the Great War Veterans’ Association (later to become The Royal Canadian Legion) officially adopted the poppy as its Flower of Remembrance in July 1921 and used the proceeds to assist wounded Veterans.
Today we continue to wear a poppy as a sign of respect and gratitude for those who served in uniform both here in Canada and in many parts around the world.
Continuing the tradition of respect for Veterans, wreaths are laid at cenotaphs’ during Remembrance Day Services. The tradition of using wreaths to show respect dates back to Roman and Greek times. Woven bay laurel tree leaves were worn as crown for victors of sporting events and military campaigns. The foliage of bay laurel trees has become of symbol of both victory and death. The tradition continues today is the laying of wreaths at commemorative ceremonies around the world.
Laurel leaves are also carved as decorative elements into stone monuments. For example, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the National War Memorial in Ottawa incorporates Laurel leaves. At the dedication ceremony of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the Canadian tradition continued. The dedication casket used was the “Dominion”, a solid maple casket manufactured by Victoriaville – a Canadian Casket manufacturer.
If you would like to learn more about symbolism of flowers please click here.
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