From the last Friday in October, through to Remembrance Day on November 11, Canadians traditionally wear red poppies on our left lapel, pinned as close to the heart as possible. We wear them to remember those who gave their lives in past and present conflicts.
This practice was inspired by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's poem In Flanders Field. The poppies, which are offered by the Royal Canadian Legion each year, are available on street corners, in storefronts and at federal buildings such as banks and post offices for a voluntary donation. The funds earned provide assistance to past servicemen and women in financial distress, and for medical-related services.
Another touching, fairly new (since 2000) tradition takes place in Ottawa after the ceremonies and wreath-laying has occurred. Veterans and civilians alike remove their poppies after the service, and lay them on top of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's a very moving gesture and sight.
On Sunday, at the eleventh hour, with red poppies pinned close to our hearts, Canadians across our nation will share two silent minutes of reflection and respect to remember those who served our country.
Two minutes for those whose hearts ceased beating far too soon.
Two minutes for countless, selfless acts of courage given in exchange for our freedom.
Two minutes for indescribable sacrifice.
It's an honour and a privilege for Canadians to pause to remember and respect those who serve.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, please pause to honour those who have given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom we assume as our right.
May we never forget