11 November 2009

Royal Legion

You would think that flowers mostly bloom in spring. So I was puzzled when over the last week, more and more red poppies started appearing. Interestingly, their natural habitat seemed to be the lapel of middle aged Canadians' coats. Their bright red made for a pleasant spot of color, now that the trees have gone bare. One of my local colleagues eventually filled me in on the purpose of the Poppy Appeal, organized by the Royal Canadian Legion. In a tradition shared with other Commonwealth countries, Canadians raise funds for the support of their war veterans, using the poppy as a symbol. Its origins are traced back to the famous WW1 poem "In Flanders Fields", written by Canadian soldier Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915. In total, during the two world wars, the Korean war, and more recent operations such as the present Afghan war theater, over 117'000 Canadian soldiers have died in battle. In their honor, November 11 (the date of the WW1 armistice in 1918) is celebrated as a holiday, and I rather unexpectedly found myself with a free day at hand.

Some overseas visitors, however, had a rather more busy day: Rememberance Day marks the end of a 10 day Royal Visit to Canada by the Prince of Wales and the Rottweiler Duchess of Cornwall, honoring veterans in Ottawa today. They toured the country east to west, probably surveying the best places to have tea and biscuits, in anticipation of mum's visit early next year for the Olympic Games. The visit largely went well and without much brouhaha (Canadians are friendly), except of course for the hefty protests in Montreal (Québecois are not Canadians).

And what will I remember of this day? Setting off the fire alarm by accidentially incinerating breadcrumbs inside my stove burner...

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