Thursday, November 11, 2010

Red is also the colour of bloodshed

I've been feeling very disturbed lately over how Remembrance Day seems to be turning into a long, drawn-out, politicized "Season". Our country (not just the States) is becoming more hysterical and divided right down to its citizen-level rhetoric (especially via the horrible Twitter), the election of the divisive, braying Rob Ford, and our determinedly divisive Prime Minister, the wretched Stephen Harper, who thinks that one's commenting on our role in Afghanistan is dishonouring the troops - when it's not about the troops.

The idea of wearing a white poppy for peace has resurfaced. I'm big on peace. Back in the 30s, in the wake of WWI and just before WWII, a wonderful UK women's group called the Cooperative Women's Guild advocated peace with the white poppy - they also lobbied for maternity benefits and infant welfare facilities.

Sometimes I feel like I should be wearing a white poppy, sometimes, I think red - as in hey, might as well. I put a pink one on my facebook and twitter pages.

And this morning, I got this map in my email. For each person from this city killed in WWII, a poppy appears on the map. So while red works because the poppies that grew in the cemetaries of France were red, it's also the colour of bloodshed. I'm painfully reminded by this map.

I checked our neighbourhood. It was mostly farmland back during the first world wars, but there was one man, John Smith, who lived very, very near our place. I looked him up on Google and found a website that displays photos of each gravestone. He's buried in England, he was a sergeant, and he was 29. Son of John Alfred and Laura Emma Smith. The homepage of the site has a small photo of someone's headstone, which made me cry, as it reads as if it's from his mom, who's missing him, "Oh for a glimpse of the grave where you're laid only to lay a flower at your head. Mother".

It's clear today is about the dead of war.

On this day of remembrance, I'm wearing a red poppy in honour of all of the fallen and their families and friends.

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