Launch of the National Poppy Campaign
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, October 19, 2016
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Those words, written more than 100 years ago by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, bring us together today.
He inspired generations to adopt the poppy as the symbol of remembrance, and every year, we gather at Rideau Hall for the launch of the National Poppy Campaign.
And every year, since the beginning of my mandate, I have reflected on what this symbol means to veterans. What it means to the men and women who wore the uniform, who sacrificed and fought and suffered for us.
With every poppy, we remember someone who is no longer with us—a friend, a loved one, a comrade-in-arms.
We grieve, and we remember their sacrifices.
But, like the poppies that flourish every year, we can also look at this as a season of hope.
There are so many memories left to us by those who fought in the First World War and in those wars that followed. So much to be grateful for. After all, we live in a peaceful country and society thanks in part to their sacrifice.
It’s now our responsibility to pass on what we know, to keep their memories alive.
We must take up the task, plant the stories, tend to them and watch them bloom with the next generation of Canadians.
We do it to learn the hard lessons that come with conflict and war.
And we do it to encourage and embrace peaceful solutions to our differences.
The Royal Canadian Legion supports veterans, making sure that we never forget the lessons of the past.
Each poppy helps veterans in concrete ways, whether through essential programs or treatments or with ensuring their stories are told.
They are stories of bravery and sacrifice.
Of soldiers, ambassadors, peacekeepers and nation builders.
Of disasters and compassion.
Stories that help define us as a nation.
Next year, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada, and all of you will play a crucial role. Because Canada as it is could not have been achieved without you.
Canadians wear the poppy to honour, remember and say thank you for all that you have done for this country.