Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poppy etiquette

Over coffee this morning I was asked a couple of questions regarding "poppy etiquette". I'll add that the reason I was asked is that, given the number of people in my favourite coffee hootch, I was one of two people actually wearing the small symbol of remembrance.

The first question was: When are we allowed to wear a poppy?

Whenever it suits you. However, presuming the query was related to this particular time of year, normally you wear a poppy from the start of the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign, beginning 27 October, until the end of 11 November. There are other occasions when a poppy is appropriate. Any ceremony or observance which memorializes veterans falls into that category. There is nothing to prevent anyone from wearing a poppy year-round and it is not considered wrong to do so.

The next question was: Where on my clothing do I wear it?

The Royal Canadian Legion suggests wearing the poppy on the left lapel or positioned on the left side of your chest, near your heart. That, however, is only a suggestion. More poppies get lost to driver's side retracting seat belts every year than most people imagine. There is nothing wrong with wearing a poppy on the right side, although at a Remembrance Day ceremony you will see veterans, members of the Canadian Forces and uniformed public servants wearing them uniformly on the left. My answer was simply to make a donation, get a poppy and wear it, preferably on the front of your clothing, showing no disrespect for the symbol or its meaning.

The last question was: How much is a suitable donation?

I could not and cannot answer that. It might do well, however, to keep in mind that the Legion uses the revenue from poppy distribution to assist ex-Service members, veterans and their dependents in a multitude of ways.

Veterans Affairs Canada provides some detail as well.

And, if you don't have a poppy yet, there's still time to get one.

29 October, 2007: There is a sudden influx of Google referrals hitting this page, particularly from the UK, from searches regarding "Poppy Etiquette". I looked for information which may be different from the Canadian information on The Royal British Legion's site. There was nothing I could find which would indicate that the proper wearing of a poppy is different between the UK and Canada. A further query to a friend suggests the Poppy Campaigns and suggested wearing of poppies are virtually identical in both countries.

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