White Poppy wreath bearers brave abuse in Ottawa

By staff writers
November 15, 2010

An anti-war group in Ottawa, Canada, has shrugged off abuse and criticism after laying two White Poppy wreaths at the National War Memorial to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Members of Voice of Women laid the wreaths to show their respect for all who have died in war and to emphasise the message "never again", which is supposed to be a key part of Remembrance.

But after they were placed, a young man attending the ceremony removed the wreaths and threw them aside, calling them a "desecration."

The Royal Canadian Legion is reported to be considering legal action against the group for their use of the Poppy symbol.

Some veterans have spoken out against the White Poppies, but others have distanced themselves from the furore whipped up against the gesture.

"My father was a Hong Kong vet and many of my family are in the military. We talk a lot about the valour and sacrifice but very little about the horrors and the deaths of the tens of millions of civilian women and children on all sides," commented Tom Hickie on the CTV News website.

"How much freedom do we have when we sue people for voicing their opinions by having a white poppy?" he asked. "There is no remembrance when only soldiers are honoured and all the rest is forgotten."

The Women's Co-operative Guild introduced the White Poppy in 1933 to remember casualties of all wars, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars.

The Red Poppy, they noted, was used only to signify the British military dead.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) took part in its distribution from 1934, and white poppy wreaths were laid from 1937 as a pledge to peace that war must not happen again.


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