Russell Barth Asks if It’s Time to Get Rid of the Poppy on Remembrance Day? GUEST WRITER

CFN – To me, wearing a poppy in 2012 is like thumbing my nose to a veteran, and here is why.

I like the whole “honoring the troops” tradition – no question. It needs said. I had three of my dad’s uncle’s serve in WW2, and the damage trickled down into the whole family, so it isn’t like I am scoffing at service or those who commit to it.

What bugs me is, we are pretty much  required  to wear these plastic poppies, but we cannot grow even  one real, live, poppy plant in our backyard. Even if that poppy’s sap was used to help a veteran who was injured in a war.

THINK about that. No, I mean  really think about it. We can’t grow medicinal plants? Is this the “freedom” we are supposedly exporting to the rest of the world?

Yes, I know there are different species of poppy, and the kind found in the Flander’s Field poem don’t produce any actual opium. But still, it is all supposed to be about “symbolism”, right? I mean, it either is, or it isn’t, and since these little plastic flowers serve no direct function other than the feelings they illicit through their mere existence, then they are, indeed a symbol.

Okay – but right now, our troops are coming home in bags, and with pieces missing, and with their minds and psyches torn to shreds, because of things like roadside bombs, suicide bombers, and other violence that is largely financed by the illegal Afghani opium trade. That opium is only valuable because it is illegal in “The West”.

Some learned generals have said “Legalize their opium industry and the Afghan people get the money instead of the bad guys.” But if The West allowed that, Turkey and Australia would lose billions, because both those countries have vast legal opium-production industries for medical use around the world. They don’t want the Aghani opium industry legalized because then their own multi-billion dollar industries become multi-million-dollar industries. 

Then there is the whole “eradication” thing that our forces engage in periodically, and all evidence shows that this policy makes the crops they don’t eradicate all the more lucrative. Some days our troops are eradicating a field of poppies, other days they have to protect them.

So our troops are dying, and we are spending billions, pretending to stop opium and whatever else it was we went there for….. because of POPPIES. Poppies that are lucrative because they are illegal.

The whole thing is absurd and monstrous. I like irony, but even I won’t go  that  far.

If you want to honor the troops by wearing an archaic and outdated – and, by now, quite frankly, a sardonically ironic – symbol… fine. But I will honor the troops by pointing out the madness of the mess we stuck them in with our society’s hypocrisy.

And don’t give me this bunk about “tradition”. Just because I don’t participate in these old traditions, doesn’t mean my feelings about the troops are any less valid than anyone else’s. Lots of ridiculous and even terrible things were once “traditions”, and I think it is high time we found a new way to honor the troops on November 11, because, considering the current situation, the poppy is the among the worst symbols for it.


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James Moak


  1. This is great.. Some important points you bring up, I certainly agree that we should not be mass producing plastic poppies (see Vice’s Garbage Island An Ocean Full of Plastic) but your points about the opium trade bring up other issues I would not have immediately thought of..

  2. Shameful disgusting opinion especially at this time of year. No one is asking that we grow it to give soldiers respect , just respect the fact that many ended up with graves underneath the poppy

  3. I am happy to live in a country where you are able to decide on following a tradition, not too, or even begin a new one.

    The Royal Canadian Legion, the keeper of the Poppy, continue to help Vets with revenue from the donations, and I will need stronger arguments to stop me from wearing a Poppy.

  4. While I don’t agree with this Article and I do think that the timing of this piece is perfectly appalling. I will say that a soldier died for your freedom to your opinions speech and expression.

    I will defend your right to your opinion, even if I completely disagree with said opinion.

    Wow, hope Jamie is back sooner rather than later:)

  5. have to agree with poppies serve a purpose

  6. i WOULD SAY YOUNG MAN YOU NEED TO MEET A CANADIAN SOLDIER AND EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS ..I would love to read about your meeting in the local death notices.

  7. Russell
    I agree with you 100% about the not needing to wear the poppy and so much so that I truly believe Remembrance Day is nothing more then a fraud. It is a day in which a special few have a paid vacation all while the rest of us work to pay for it. Democracy at its best I would say.

    In its original context of expressing gratitude for troops fighting to save us…wait save us from what? The potential onslaught of German troops at our borders? The Middle Eastern tyrants, most of which already live here with a passport….or the fact people cannot work in freely if they do not speak French??

    I would bet a good many of these people would just as soon shoot the lot of us now as any enemy of the past. Who knows maybe even side with the enemy seeing the results of what they gave life and family for?

    As for poppies, I grow them myself and yes the potential for opiates is present when they seed….

  8. Mr. Barth makes some very good points regarding the insane and destructive attempts to control poppy production in Afghanistan. It’s also a little ironic that the red plastic poppies we all wear for remembrance are manufactured in third world countries where freedom is nonexistent.
    Excellent and timely article.

  9. Stoner doesn’t know that there are different kinds of poppies. The poppies in Europe do not supply the world with it’s painkillers. Your shirt tells us your life has mostly been “wasted”. Pass the bong, dude.

  10. Pathetic, absurd and lacking intelligence. Jamie….where are you?

  11. More made in China plastic poppies please. I think that China needs all the support we can give them. Child workers and death to organized labour, that’s what we have always fought for.

    A vet, the kind that never stumbled out of a legion or spoke about their war, mightn’t agree with the article above, but they wouldn’t likely wish the author any harm.

    The romance and sentiment peddling crowd that appears at this time every year, would be better to redirect their misplaced anger. People exercising their freedom like the author of the above article are not a threat to our social or moral fabric; rather it is the likes of our toffee-nosed snot-of-a Minister of Defence, Peter MacKay, and the near treasonous ex-CDS Walt Natynczyk, and the entire Harper government… that last collection of SOB’s continue to neglect Canadian veterans, even as they themselves enjoy junkets to battle grounds and cemeteries around the world.

  12. I take it that RICK BOWEN isn’t a big huge supporter of free speech.

  13. We know what he is smoking, so no surprise here.

    Agree with Stella (for the first time ever).

  14. Yup! It’s nice to see everyone, no matter what language you speak, to agree and disagree all at the same time. I think that would be considered ” free speech”.
    Yeah, the poppie. A nice colour. Majority of canadians wear it not because it’s nice colour of a plant, because it represents all of the ALLIED FORCES SERVICE MEMBERS ( MEN & WOMEN ), patriots, who fought and died and those that survived with handicap for the rest of their lives. The lucky ones who came back but were shakened or are in one piece and their youth taken away from them at such an early age.
    Now, in todays world, the servicepersons still fighting for the same cause except it’s a different type of WAR.
    Guess what that be – PEACE & FREEDOM.

    It’s plain to see, there are a few people around who grew up during WW2 who remember what it was like to live in that time.
    Ask them!
    You people of today should count yourselves lucky.
    Sleep well.

  15. Helga……

    I knew we could get along……it just takes awhile sometimes **smile**

  16. bigfellow
    are you saying us imposing our ethics ,laws and beliefs on other countries because of minerals and oil is called PEACE & FREEDOM?

  17. As I see it your a disgrace / not only to yourself but to our veterans . I would suggest a shave and a hair cut & a regular
    plain shirt might be a good start to cleaning up your act .
    We owe those who served defending our land more than we
    will ever be able to repay . People like you show no respect &
    as a result none will be shown to you or people like you .
    As it now stands you appear to be a misfit in our society .
    God Forbid .

  18. Well done Russell, as always your letters are provocative and thought provoking. It is unfortunate that the symbol of remembering the sacrifices of soldiers in wars is also a source of financing terrorism. I believe that as a nation we can differentiate the two concepts and accept the intention and emotion of the Poppy on Remembrance Day.

  19. Hailey Brown and others
    I’m am saying our military pers and other peacekeeping nations are there to protect the innocent.
    It’s plain to see you and many others have not been in area of engagement of armed fighting.
    I’s plain to see that areas like these that you have not seen where there was at one time, quiet peaceful villages,that were torn apart and a villagers were hacked to pieces and women and kids, raped, slaughtered, like cattle and our service men and women have seen and smelled the atrocity that has occurred and this is in PEACEKEEPING TIME and OH, YEAH, our service pers come home with a clear mind – NOT.
    Yeah, Oil and minerals be dammned.
    This is only a small part of what our service pers get involved with.
    During the WW2, it was gas chambers, the cremation ovens and concentration camps.
    Yeah, let’s get rid of the “poppies”, let everyone forget about why we wear them, why we lost so many service pers that gave us our freedom and peaceful lives.
    Yeah, let ignorace take the honour.
    Have a nice day.

  20. You are right bigfellow I have not been there, but I have seen results of our saving other countries,

    We over throw governments to implement people like Markos in the Phillipines, Sadam in Iraq, and Ghadaffi in Lybia, Or Rabbani in Afghanistan…..

    in all cases if the countries mentioned fought in favour of our beliefs it was for freedom, as soon as they fought for themselves they were labeled terrorists or Taliban….

    Maybe we can look as far back as the time the US freed Japan with two atomic bombs……

    and when was our freedm in Canada ever in peril?

  21. Actually, wars have little to do with protecting the innocent. Wars are waged for money. Lots of Americans are raised to believe the American Civil War was to free slaves. Hardly. It’s because the banks in the north were broke and the plantation owners of the south had all the wealth. Our present day wars are no different. That said, what I do like about the poppy – even with any irony in the opium side of things – is that it gives us a focus. War is ugly. The poppy is beautiful. A psychological bandaid maybe, but a shield under which to recover something of our humanity…even if for a few minutes a year. I vote for the poppy.

  22. What a shameful, opportunistic sham to promote your own apparent agenda to legalize street drugs. Shame on you – shame!

  23. Ricky writes “What a shameful, opportunistic sham to promote your own apparent agenda to legalize street drugs. Shame on you – shame!” —– Double Amen to that!

  24. Yes ,Sir, Roc,Ricky,Pastor Tom Newton, you took the wrong road to the understanding of the meaning behind the name of “poppie” and the understanding why that name of that type of plant was use in the poem and the year the poem it was written.
    It’s plain to see none of the people mentioned, have ever see action and the disasterous results of war.
    BY the way, Soc, if these atomic bombs were NOT used, at that particular time, more than likely we would not be here.
    Be thankful for the freedom that you now have.
    Have a nice day.

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