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LETTER: Reader says white peace poppies should also adorn downtown crosswalk

'Not only would it honour all those killed and victimized by war, it would also demonstrate our community’s commitment to the cause of ending such bloodshed once and for all,' says letter-writer
2021-11-11 White poppy
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at raymond@barrietoday.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'City installs new poppy artwork in front of downtown cenotaph,' published on Nov. 9.
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The horrors of war have been felt by many families. While the role of our kin may have played out generations ago, their loss is still felt by many of us today. That was my observation when I visited the grave of my great-uncle in France a number of years ago. It was a difficult experience for me. But through the day’s emotions, I somehow felt connected to others with a similar family history. 

But the violent losses caused by war are not only felt by the relatives and descendants of soldiers. War has claimed the lives of innocent civilians at excessive levels for centuries and continues to do so. Children are left orphaned; spouses widowed; communities forever changed by violence inflicted on them without choice or defence. And while people suffer, so-called Canada does little to stop it. It actually profits from it.

Recently, red poppies were added to the crosswalk at Owen and Dunlop streets in downtown Barrie. It was done in a year where the legion was marking 100 years of the poppy campaign in Canada. I made the decision not to wear a red poppy a few years ago. I find the association with war propagation unpalatable, and I am uneasy with the growing militant nationalism associated with Remembrance Day. This year, I donned a white peace poppy, instead. 

Originally, Armistice Day – as it was first known – was focused on ending war, not glorifying it. That’s where it needs to return. The idea of the peace poppy once fit the day, but the culture surrounding the modern version of Remembrance Day makes it difficult to even contemplate a new politics of peace. 

Which is why I think the city needs to add white poppies to the crosswalk in downtown Barrie. Not only would it honour all those killed and victimized by war, it would also demonstrate our community’s commitment to the cause of ending such bloodshed once and for all. 

Keep the red poppies if you want. I understand the connection many people – especially veterans – have with them. But giving peace a chance alongside the traditional blood red might not be a bad way to kick off the next 100 years of Remembrance Day and the poppy. 

Michael Speers 
Barrie

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