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The Middle: Remembering Remembrance Day

Surely there’s enough time between Halloween and Christmas to allow for a proper period of honour and respect

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way our society has let the most important of fall holidays become somewhat of an afterthought.

What happens between Halloween and Christmas? What’s in The Middle?

Remembrance Day.

For 11 days in November, we wear a poppy. It’s 11 days, I think we can wait 11 days before getting into “The Holiday Spirit.”

(Personally, I’d like Christmas decorations to be confined to December, but that’s just me.)

Can we blame consumerism? Possibly. Getting “the jump” on the competition is rampant with retailers. (See also: Back to School Sales that start in July.)

While I love the beauty of the big unveiling of the Holiday windows — let the rest of the world do that seconds after Halloween, but not us, not here, not Canada.

The most Canadian of retailers, The Hudsons Bay Company, held a massive holiday window unveiling event on November 5th.

Could we not wait one week? We’re talking about a delay of just seven days, out of respect for our veterans. C’mon.

Have we lost our ability to pause for the fallen in the name of Christmas consumerism?

Now comes word the CFL has scheduled the BC Lions playoff game for a 10am start on November 11th. Where’s the respect for this day?

On a similar topic, do you don a Poppy? Have you bought one? Do you know why we wear them?

I posed a quick Sunday dinner question to the pair of 11-year olds about Remembrance Day and, to be honest, it was beyond heartwarming to hear they knew the history. That said, when it comes to young adults it’s a bit of a fail if you go by Poppy Count.

Here in Vancouver, it is striking to note how few have them on. Seems so many are cool to dive right into rocking a Christmas sweater following Halloween rather than pause to pin on a Poppy.

There was a time where we all had respect for these “days between” Halloween and November 11th, where there wouldn’t be any sign of Christmas prior to our day to celebrate servicepeople.

We would truly take pause to show due respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedom.

In the interest of learning, or in many cases a refresher, I offer some Poppy history:

The Canadian Legion will tell you the significance of the Poppy dates to the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, more than 100 years before becoming the iconic Canadian symbol of today. Why it became so important to us dates to the First World War - specifically the spring of 1915, and a poem.

In Flanders Fields, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres.

Flanders is in western Belgium, bordered by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg. The Germans had a stronghold there, and it saw some of the most devastating battles. In fact, due to those battles, Flanders Field – once a barren landscape – began blooming with poppies in a way never before seen. To quote the history of the poppy:

“During the tremendous bombardments of war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing the popaver rheas to thrive. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the poppy began to disappear again.”

These stories are getting lost.

It’s vital that our Canadian culture never slips so far removed from our history that we cannot give our servicepeople 11 days of annual remembrance. It’s more than just a leadup to a long weekend.

“Lest we forget” isn’t just a hashtag – or at least, shouldn’t be.

The Poppy is evolving — you can donate and create a digital Poppy (and even personalize a dedication to the veteran in your life) by visiting

Remember that there is a Middle between “Boo!” and setting up the tree or menorah — it involves a Poppy. It’s important to honour it.

On Remembrance Day pause at 11:11am – exactly 100 years since the First World War came to a merciful end – be silent, and think of those lost and those who protect us still.


By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who has spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.