THE POPPY CAMPAIGN

YOU MADE AN OATH

When you were initiated into the Royal Canadian Legion, you made an oath. Remember that? Among several other issues, you made an oath of "active participation in poppy campaigns". Now you remember? Well, we'd like to see how many of you were serious about speaking those words and we challenge you to, this year at least, volunteer to do a couple hours work in our poppy campaign. We need volunteers! WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

If you read this newsletter regularly, or if you read the posted minutes of meetings, or if you attend meetings, you will know about the gravely needed financial aid we provide to veterans and the families of veterans. Sometimes through direct financial assistance and sometimes through the purchase of many medical devices, The Royal Canadian Legion is there to help make life just a little bit better.

So now, to help make our campaign a success, we need your volunteer assistance. Just write your name and telephone number on the "sign-up" sheets on the Branch bulletin board and one of our hard working coordinators will get in touch with you to help you make your oath to the Legion a meaningful one.

To all volunteers, THANKS! We needed that.

Ronn Anderson, Chairperson


INFORMATION ABOUT THE POPPY CAMPAIGN

Remembrance is the cornerstone of The Royal Canadian Legion's work in Canada. The Poppy Campaign is a major source of funds used to assist veterans, ex-service members and their dependents.

Lest we forget ...


What does the poppy represent?

The poppy represents the symbol of Remembrance.

Why should I wear a poppy?

When you wear a poppy or display a wreath you honour the war dead and help ex-service personnel and their dependents.

How do I help needy ex-service personnel and their dependents?

The basic purpose of poppy funds is to provide immediate assistance to ex-service personnel in need. This may include food, shelter or medical attention for them or their families. Also bursaries are granted to children and grandchildren of ex-service personnel.

Are there any other uses for poppy funds?

Yes. Poppy funds can be used for low-rental housing and care facilities for elderly or disabled persons and their dependents, community medical appliances and medical research, day care centres, meals-on-wheels, transportation and related services for veterans, their dependants and the aged. Donations may be given for relief of disasters declared by the federal or provincial governments.

Aren't ex-service personnel eligible for government pensions?

Yes. Many ex-service personnel do get pensions, but many others, although handicapped, do not. However, no pension can provide for eventualities such as fire, a long illness on the part of the breadwinner or other medical expenses.

Do you have to be a Legion member to get help from the poppy fund?

No. Any ex-service personnel or dependant is eligible to apply for financial aid from the poppy fund. The poppy funds also support the Legion service bureaux, and a large number of service bureau cases involve people who are not Legion members.

What are Service Bureaux?

Throughout the Legion, in some 1,720 branches in ten provincial commands, and in Ottawa, there are service officers whose job it is to assist ex-service persons or dependents with problems relating to disability pensions or other veterans' legislation. The national and provincial offices not only provide advice but act on behalf of the individual. Every year thousands of representations are placed before the federal government on behalf of "clients" . There is no charge for this service which is available to any ex-service personnel or dependent who can qualify for such assistance.

Does all the money raised through the distribution of poppies and wreaths go into poppy funds?

After expenses, such as the cost of poppies, wreaths and other supplies are deducted, all remaining monies are placed in trust to be used on those purposes authorized in the General By-laws of The Royal Canadian Legion.

Can poppy money be used for anything else?

The Legion's constitution stresses that poppy funds must be held in trust. They are subscribed to by the public. They are held in a bank account separate from that of the branch and cannot be used for any purpose other than those stipulated.

Are campaign expenses high?

Campaign expenses are unusually low because most of the work is voluntary.

How much should I give?

We suggest that you give according to the dictates of your conscience. You might remember that the cost of all the things the poppy fund provides is much higher today; therefore, it takes more money to do the same job. When you give to the poppy campaign you remember the war dead and help the living and the dependents of those who have served our country.


HISTORY OF THE POPPY

Why was the poppy chosen as the symbol of remembrance for Canada's war dead?

The poppy, an international symbol for those who died in war, also had international origins.

A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended.

Prior to the First World War few poppies grew in Flanders. During the tremendous bombardments of that war the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing 'popaver rhoeas' to thrive. When the war ended the lime was quickly absorbed, and the poppy began to disappear again.

Lieut-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem IN FLANDERS FIELDS, made the same connection 100 years later, during the First World War, and the scarlet poppy quickly became the symbol for soldiers who died in battle.

Three years later an American, Moina Michael, was working in a New York City YMCA canteen when she started wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield. During a 1920 visit to the United States a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France she decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. In November 1921, the first poppies were distributed in Canada.

Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear flowers each November, the little red plant has never died. And neither have Canadian's memories for 116,031 of their countrymen who died in battle.


THE POPPY...THE FLOWER OF REMEMBRANCE

Each November, over thirteen million poppies blossom in Canada. They blossom on the jackets, dresses and hats of nearly half the Canadian population and they have blossomed for almost 75 years, since 1921. The poppy is the symbol that individuals use to show that they remember those who were killed in the wars and peace keeping operations that Canada has been involved in.

The association of the poppy to those who had been killed in war had existed for at least 110 years prior to being adopted in Canada. There are records of a correspondent who, during the Napoleonic War, wrote of how thickly poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France.

The person, who more than any other, that was responsible for the adoption of the poppy in Canada was a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War. This person was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario.

John McCrae was a tall, boyish 43-year -old member of the Canadian Medical Corps. He was an artillery veteran of the Boer War in South Africa and was described as a person with the eye of a gunner, the hand of a surgeon, and the soul of a poet when he went into the line at Ypres on the 22nd of April 1915.

April 22, was the first time that the enemy used poison gas, but the first attack failed and and so did the next wave and the next. In fact, for 17 days and nights the allies repulsed wave after wave of the attacking enemy. McCrae wrote - "One can see the dead lying there on the front field. And in places where the enemy threw in an attack, they lie very thick on the slopes of the German trenches."

Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae, worked from a dressing station on the bank of the Yser Canal, dressing hundreds of wounded and never removed his clothes for the entire 17 days. At times the dead and wounded actually rolled down the bank from above his dugout. At other times, while awaiting the arrival of batches of wounded, he would watch the men at work in the burial plots which were quickly filling up. In time, McCrae and his unit were relieved and he wrote home " We are weary in body and wearier in mind. The general impression in my mind is one of a nightmare".

Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae came away from Ypres with 13 lines scrawled on a scrap of paper. The lines were a poem which started: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow..."

These were the lines which are enshrined in the innermost thoughts and hearts of all soldiers who hear them. John McCrae was their voice. The poem circulated as a folk song, by word of mouth and all who hear it are deeply touched. In the United States for example, the poem inspired the American Legion to also adopt the poppy as the symbol of Remembrance.

In Canada, the poppy was officially adopted by the Great War Veterans Association in 1921 on the suggestion of a Mrs. E. Guerin, a French citizen. But there is little doubt that the impact of John McCrae's poem influenced this decision.

The poem speaks of Flanders fields, but the subject is universal - the fear of the dead that they will be forgotten, that their death will have been in vain. Remembrance, as symbolized by the poppy, is our eternal answer which belies that fear.

Sadly, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae died of pneumonia at Wimereux near Boulogne, France on the 28th of January 1918 when he was 44 years old.



PLEASE WEAR A POPPY

"Please wear a poppy," the lady said
And held one forth, but I shook my head.
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.

A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on care-free feet.
His smile was full of joy and fun,
"Lady," said he, "may I have one?"
When she's pinned it on he turned to say,
"Why do we wear a poppy today?"

The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered, "This is Remembrance Day,
And the poppy there is the symbol for
The gallant men who died in war.
And because they did, you and I are free -
That's why we wear a poppy, you see.

"I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird he would race about.
As the years went by he learned and grew
and became a man - as you will, too.

He was fine and strong, with a boyish smile,
But he'd seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out and he went away.
I still remember his face that day
When he smiled at me and said, Goodbye,
I'll be back soon, Mom, so please don't cry.

"But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the awful fight,
(I can see it still in my dreams at night),
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.

"Till at last, at last, the war was won-
And that's why we wear a poppy son."
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said, "Thanks, lady, I'm glad to know.
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son - did he come back all right?"

A tear rolled down each faded cheek;
She shook her head, but didn't speak.
I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me you'd have done the same;
For our thanks, in giving, if oft delayed,
Thought our freedom was bought - and thousands paid!

And so when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne,
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country's call
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy! Remember - and give!

by Don Crawford