Tuesday October 28, 2014

Do red poppies and white poppies contradict each other?

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THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

As Remembrance Day approaches, you'll see more and more red poppies on the lapels of your fellow Canadians. There is a chance you'll see a few white poppies too. They're worn to represent peace, and some say the white poppy disrespects veterans. But this week, we hear from one veteran who wears both.

Malcolm French says the two complement each other, and help him honour both the past and the future of Canada's armed forces. French was member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserves for more than 20 years, and was Executive Officer of HMCS Queen.

"I'll wear two poppies because I believe that the two sides of the Remembrance Day narrative need to be balanced. Because I honour the sacrifice of veterans and their fallen comrades, I believe that the lives of young Canadian service folk should not be sacrificed lightly."

Malcolm French

He believes any controversy over white poppies is manufactured, and diverts from the real issues facing veterans today, like the closures of Veterans Affairs offices, and the many Afghanistan vets dealing with PTSD-- sometimes ending in suicide. And, he says, those who criticize the white poppy on behalf of servicemen and women can't know what they've been through.

"Though I was never called on to face combat, I am proud of my service to my country. Much of the criticism of the white poppy came from people who never served. I have no lessons in patriotism to take from them."

Malcolm French
French says he will wear his poppies, and his medals, with pride this Remembrance Day.