First posted on Ceasefire.ca on 11 November 2014, we are grateful to share this poignant commentary again this year.
Malcolm French, a veteran who served for 25 years with the Royal Canadian Navy, discusses on CBC Radio why he wears both a red and a white poppy on Remembrance Day:
Last year I wore two poppies: one red and one white. This year, I intend to do it again. Some claim the white poppy is disrespectful to veterans and to the fallen. It’s a trumped-up controversy designed to have citizens outraged over trifles to divert attention away from the real disrespect meted out to veterans every day.
Under the new Veterans Charter, ongoing pensions for wounded soldiers have been replaced with lump-sum payments. Veterans Affairs offices have been closed. We have now lost more Afghanistan veterans to suicide than were lost to enemy action.
So why did I wear two poppies, and why will I do it again?
For me, the red poppy represents the sacrifice of the fallen; the white poppy represents the hope for a better future where young soldiers, sailors, and air crew do not have to die.
I’ll wear two poppies because I believe that the two sides of the Remembrance Day narrative need to be balanced, because I honour the sacrifice of veterans and their fallen comrades. I believe that the lives of young Canadian service folk should not be sacrificed lightly.
I’ll wear two poppies because I reject the antics of the professional rage artists who deflect our attention from real issues. But mostly, I’ll wear two poppies to take a stand against the phony outrage intended to shame those who would wear a white poppy. If not for that, I doubt I’d have gone to the trouble of tracking down a white poppy.
As we approach Remembrance Day, we will be reminded again and again that those who served and those who never came home were defending our freedom. I agree. And I can think of no greater disrespect to veterans and to their fallen comrades than to self-censor on Remembrance Day of all days. I will not dishonour the sacrifice of the fallen by fearfully laying aside the freedom they won at such cost.
That’s why this Remembrance Day I’ll wear two poppies: one red and one white.”
Listen to the full statement on CBC Radio’s The 180, Tuesday October 28, 2014: Do red and white poppies contradict each other?
Photo credit: CC BY 2.0 image “Rememberence [sic] Day 2007” by Douglas O’Brien on Flickr