National Poppy Campaign
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, October 24, 2012
My wife, Sharon, and I are pleased to welcome you to Rideau Hall, the home of the people of Canada.
As commander-in-chief of Canada, I am honoured to receive the first poppy in this year’s National Poppy Campaign. Here at Rideau Hall, we understand the importance of symbolism in the life of our nation, and the poppy is our most potent symbol of remembrance.
This small, scarlet flower speaks volumes about the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and veterans, and it starkly reminds us of the tragedy of war.
The poppy has officially been with us as a symbol of remembrance for more than 90 years now. As you know, it was adopted following the end of the Great War, or, as we know it today, the First World War.
At the time of fighting, the war was also known unofficially by another name: “the war to end all wars.” This was a reference to the scale of the conflict and to the terrible destruction that it wrought—destruction that John McCrae wrote about in his famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.”
Calling it “the war to end all wars” also suggested that never again would we fail to achieve our ends by peaceful means.
That the First World War wasn’t, in fact, the last war speaks to the fact that our veterans and their loved ones have continued to make sacrifices in the decades since. In war and in peacetime, members of the Canadian Forces have been steadfast in their service to our country.
In the two years that I have served as governor general and commander-in-chief, I have witnessed the dedication and professionalism of our Canadian Forces. It never fails to impress and inspire. Sharon and I have seen up close our soldiers at work, and we know the price that is paid by veterans and their families.
Our viceregal responsibilities have given us an even deeper sense of our duty to remember.
The poppy, which grew so abundantly in the fields of Flanders and covers like a blanket the graves of so many who fell there, reminds us that we must always keep faith with those who serve.
Today, with the launch of the National Poppy Campaign, we renew our solemn bond with veterans, past and present.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion for leading this important campaign.
I would also like to invite veterans and their loved ones to visit our national honours exhibit, From Far and Wide: Honouring Great Canadians. This free exhibit is located just across from Parliament Hill and tells the stories of a number of our most decorated veterans.
Together as Canadians, let us remember the sacrifices made by soldiers and by citizens in war. And let us honour our veterans and their loved ones by reaffirming our commitment to building a more just, fair and peaceful world.