White Poppies? Right Message, Wrong Time

By Jay Menard

There is a time and a place for everything. And though you may be married to the idea that a personal protest takes precedence, Remembrance Day is clearly not the time to wear white.

That said, everyone has the right to wear a white poppy — a symbol initially introduced in the 1920s by the No More War Movement in England. It’s now established as a pacifist alternative to the red poppy with the intent to disassociate from the military aspect of the red poppy recognition.

But just because you have the Right doesn’t make it right.

There’s a time and a place for everything. Protesters tend to like to use existing days of recognition to amplify their message. That’s your right, but it doesn’t make it right.

Wearing a red poppy does not mean you condone violence. It does not mean that you’re tacitly approving the continued use of armed aggression to resolve global issues, nor does it mean that you feel past uses of violence were good either.

Wearing a red poppy simply means that you are honouring those who fought for our country to uphold its ideals.

You can think these soldiers were misguided. You can think they were sold a bill of goods by upper levels of a government and society that would never consider being on the front lines themselves. You can believe they fell for propaganda and false pretenses.

But I choose to believe that these men and women, including my own grandfather, honestly believed they were protecting their families — and their future generations — in the best, and only, way they knew how.

That’s what I choose to honour.

I support the rights of those who believe that gay marriage goes against their religion to freely and openly state that. But I don’t think the gay pride parade is the venue to do it. Again, they have the Right to protest; but that doesn’t make it right.

And just like those anti-gay protesters, I support the Right of people to conscript Remembrance Day into a platform to amplify their personal beliefs. But I don’t think it’s right that they choose to shout their message on the backs of those for whom this day is intended.

I don’t believe in guns. I’m very anti-war. And I’m more than happy to argue those ideals the other 364 days of the year. I also think the pledge of the Peace Pledge Union, the organization at the lead of the white poppy movement, is something to aspire towards: “I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war. I am also determined to work for the removal of all causes of war.”

I share those sentiments and believe they should be heard. But not on this one day — Remembrance Day. Not at a volume that exceeds the November 11th message. And not at the expense of what the red poppy represents.

Though I don’t believe in war, I do honour and respect those who have fought for the freedoms we all enjoy today. Even the freedom to participate in a misplaced protest. I don’t have to like it, but I respect those rights exist.

This day is not about me or my beliefs. It is not a day for me to conscript into my own platform, nor is it a day for me to stand upon as a soapbox to profess my anti-war sentiments.

Thanks to what our soldiers stood for, I have that right, but I choose to use it responsibly. And respectfully.

That’s why I wear red.

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