In Canada, the poppy is the official symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers. The flower provided inspiration to Canadian doctor John McCrae who wrote a poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ during the First World War. He was moved after seeing this blood red flower being the only thing that grew near the quickly dug graves of his former comrades and patients. These young men were laid to rest with just a simple wooden cross to mark their spot.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, that war officially ended. More than 66,000 of our service members gave their lives and more than 172,000 were wounded. We chose that day and time to honor military forces members who have died on the behalf of their country, by giving them a minute of silence. Since that time to now, we still hold vigil on Remembrance day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.
While it is easy to grieve on a national level about a war long ago and to men unknown, we still live in troubled times. Throughout the decades our military forces have continuously defended our values, often far from home. It is just a small token to recognize one soldier of many and tell their story, perhaps only to remind us of the human cost.
Cpl Dupéré enlisted on January 23, 1997 with the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment. He was deployed to Afghanistan During the spring of 2007. He participated in his second tour in Afghanistan in the spring of 2011. On April 12 of the same year, he was injured in action by an explosive attack, losing an eye and an arm. He continued to serve till discharge on February 1, 2015. He provided 18 years of service to his country. Cpl François Dupéré passed away recently on January 20, 2021, at the age of 40.
This exemplary soldier is just an example of the brave men and women that sacrifice flesh, blood and bone for our nation. Freedom isn’t free, there is a price to pay. We have to honor those who pay the price.
That is why I wear a poppy.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
the poem is recited by Éric Fortin (Groupe 1-77)
Inna Zwicker (Groupe 1-75)