“This Remembrance Day I’ll wear two poppies: one red and one white”


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

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6 Responses to ““This Remembrance Day I’ll wear two poppies: one red and one white””

  1. Jean McLarenNovember 10, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    I have been wearing a white poppy for several years now. I have worked for peace for about 70 years and am now 88. In 2004 one of my step/grandsons join the army and went to Afghanistan because he wanted to help girls go to school. He was only 20 years old and he stepped on a hidden bomb and was killed. I honour him with a White poppy and refuse to go to the ceremony here. It is no ceremony for me.

  2. Deb ProtheroNovember 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    Where can one find the official white poppy? And can we create a movement where we send a few dollars toward peace activities in exchange for an official white poppy? Or does that already exist and I am merely uninformed?

  3. Harry MayorNovember 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Initially I was angry that someone espoused a move from the red poppy as a remembrance of war and the dead. Just a year ago, some students in Ottawa wanted to replace the red poppy with a white poppy,based upon the red representing war and the white representing peace.In actual fact, their justification was much longer and complicated. Not one white poppy was seen..
    However, once I cooled down and absorbed more of what Mr.French was suggesting, I could agree with his reasoning and purpose. It has been obvious for many years that the government and many bureaucrats have neglected and/also insulted our veterans. The Conservatives are not solely responsible. Some of the senior officers have disdained the responsibility that an officer has for his men. I also remember a Liberal minister of defence…when told the camouflage gear for the soldiers was unsuited for the country in which they were fighting, said loudly give them a blanket.
    Mr.French has the right to speak his mind and his opinion, many suffered or died to give him that right.
    My only reservation about a white poppy is that a white flag is usually utilized as a symbol of surrender. A friend hastened to say that it also could mean…’let’s talk/negotiate.
    My response is that many have been discussing/talking/negotiating for ethical humane treatment for our veterans….all we got was puerile political pablum. I am not ranting, only venting…our troops and veterans deserve more.
    Thank you.

  4. anne cameronNovember 10, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    …and to honour the untold millions of civilians who perished in wars. For every soldier killed on all “sides”, at least twelve unarmed non-combatants died. And so many of them were children… it’s beyond sad, past tragic, and all the way to fekkin’ stupid!

    • Christine CarlsonNovember 11, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      You are so right in your message here. Maybe not as strong a voice to make Ottawa stand up and take proper notice of ALL our veterans, but a very good start.

      • TishaJanuary 7, 2016 at 11:47 am #

        What a pleasure to find someone who idiienftes the issues so clearly