It always lightens my day when I see poppies on coats during the month of November. The poppy, the symbol of remembrance and of respect for our armed forces and Veterans. The poppy, which originally came from McRae’s famous poem In Flander’s Fields, in which he describes the poppies that grow on the graves of fallen soldiers. I like to believe that when Veterans see people such as myself wearing a poppy, they truly know the impact that they have had on everyday people, and feel recognized for it.
As Scouts, we are patrons for the community. We observe problems that occur in our neighbourhoods, and try to help fix them in accordance to our Scouting values. The many problems surrounding the livelihoods of Canadian Veterans are not new, and have been affecting the lives of our heroes for as long as Canada has been in existence. What we as Canadians have to deal with is the reality that many of our Veterans have seen horrors that we can only imagine, and that they have impacted their lives in many ways. What we as Scouts can do, however, is simple yet powerful, basic things like thanking and engaging with the person who hands you a poppy this year or joining a Legion hall Remembrance Day ceremony.
Another great way that you can become more of a patron in your community in how we respect our Veterans is by educating people around on our wartime history. It’s important that we too know the fierce struggle that our Veterans went through for our freedom and the freedom of others, all around the world.
If you are a Scouter, consider running activities in your Group to commemorate Remembrance Day, but also to commemorate the continued freedom we enjoy in Canada every day of the year. Consider talking to your youth about the challenges that our Veterans have gone through to ensure this continued freedom, and the sacrifice many endured achieving it.
The intense respect I have for Canada’s Veterans is one of the reasons that I was so concerned to hear that Veterans often continue to suffer, even after their tour is over. According to Veteran’s Affairs Canada, 24% of Veterans who served between 1998 and 2007 reported that they had a diagnosed mental health condition, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.
This is why it’s important for Scouts to show that we remember, and to be supportive of our Veterans and those who continue to serve. It is easy for us to do our part in small ways, like joining a Legion Remembrance Day ceremony, or saying a kind and sincere “thank you!” to a Veteran. In 2011, Scouts Canada created the Canadian Forces Popcorn Program which has since sent over $850,000 of popcorn to Canadian Armed Forces nationally and abroad.
As the young leaders of today, Scouting youth can set a positive example to Canadians by wearing a poppy to honour and recognize the freedom we enjoy thanks to our Veterans, and those currently serving, our country.