Born from a poem written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario, a little red flower was the subject of a universal fear - fear the Fallen will be forgotten, that their death will have been in vain. From that poem the Poppy grew as the symbol of Remembrance. Today, millions of Canadians wear the Remembrance Poppy each November, a visual pledge to never forget those who sacrificed for our freedoms.
In the days leading up to Remembrance Day, Canadians will be pausing at a Legion table or Poppy box in malls, stores and services across the country to pick up a Poppy. Canadians outside of the country can get a Poppy from Royal Canadian Legion Branches in the U.S., Mexico, Germany and the Netherlands, or through their Canadian Embassy or Consulate. While Poppies are always free, The Royal Canadian Legion gratefully accepts donations to the Poppy Fund, which directly supports Canada’s Veterans and their families in need.
Throughout the Remembrance period, we see Poppies worn with pride in every corner of our lives to honour our Veterans. The Royal Canadian Legion provides a Poppy Protocol to guide Canadians on appropriate and respectful wearing of the lapel Poppy. However, wearing a Poppy is a personal expression of Remembrance, and how someone chooses to wear a Poppy is always an individual choice.
How to wear a Poppy
The Poppy should be worn with respect on the left side, over the heart. The Legion’s lapel Poppy is a sacred symbol of Remembrance and should not be affixed with any pin that obstructs the Poppy. While some have chosen to secure their Poppy with a pin, most Legion Branches provide poppy keepers, clear plastic ends that can be attached to the back of the pin so as not to obscure the Poppy yet still keep it secure.
When to wear a Poppy
The poppy should be worn during the Remembrance period, from the last Friday in October until November 11. The Legion encourages the wearing of Poppies at funerals of Veterans, and for any commemorative event such as a memorial service, or the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. As well, it is not inappropriate to wear a Poppy during other times to commemorate Fallen Veterans and it is an individual choice to do so.
When to remove a Poppy
Poppies may be worn throughout the Remembrance period, including in the evening after Remembrance Day Ceremony. Some choose to remove their Poppy at the end of the day on November 11. Some choose to remove their Poppy at the conclusion of the ceremony and place their Poppy on the cenotaph or on a wreath as a sign of respect. This has become a poignant tradition each year at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa as thousands of Poppies are placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
When a Poppy is removed, it should be stored appropriately or it may be disposed of respectfully. We encourage anyone who finds a Poppy that has fallen to the ground to pick it up and brush it off so that it can be kept or disposed of respectfully.
We invite everyone across the country to honour and remember Canada’s Veterans by proudly wearing this symbol of Remembrance and taking a moment to reflect.