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White Poppie’s

November 10th, 2010

It’s time to come out: four years ago I anonymously began a satire blog called The Canadian Folk Collective. I decided to roll anonymously because remembrance-poppyI didn’t want what was written there, which was meant to be fictional and over the top, with what I wrote here. I wrote about five posts, and never got back to it, although I often thought about it. Even had a few false starts along the way, but after Snow ball fights at David Suzuki’s Global Warming Tour Finale in March 2007, I never updated it again.

In November 2006 there was a couple of controversies going on around Remembrance Day, the white poppies and the guys who peed on the cenotaph at Remembrance Day services in Ottawa. In response, I wrote a post at the Folk Collective called Wearing White & Piddling on the Cenotaph:

Ottawa – Remembrance Day

We were invited to play at the cenotaph and accepted with some reluctance, as these ceremonies tend to be more conservative than we are comfortable with. Tippy was out of the hospital and doing fine, but had been told to drink lots of fluids. As such he arrived with a 2L jug of water, and spent most of this time drinking it.

We had been asked to provide a short show before the vets parade arrived at ten-thirty. This we did, playing from our repertoire of war-based material. Unfortunately, we only play anti-war songs Ballad of the Green Beret, Give Peace A Chance that sort of thing. Apparently this crowd was more in the mood for Battle Hymn of the Republic than Eve of Destruction.

While we might reasonably have been able to figure that out, I don’t know how we could be expected to know that Stevie’s poppy would give offense. Stevie had bought a white poppy from some guy in Edmonton, as a symbol of peace. He explained to Stevie that the white poppy told people you believed in supporting our troops by not sending them to war. The white indicated her pacifist views, while still supporting the young men who, frankly, are not smart enough to know that they are pawns of the imperialist intentions of the ruling elite.

But the Vets and other members of the Legion somehow found this quite sane view insulting. As soon as services where over, Tippy went to one to ask where the bathroom was:

“Excuse me, can you tell me where the toilet is?” Tippy asked an older gentleman.

“Hey, what do you think your doing wearing that white poppy?” he yelled at Stevie.

“I am supporting our troops, by supporting the peace.” she answered very reasonably.

“No really sir,” said Tippy. “I drank a big jug of water…”

“You support the troops by supporting peace?” he asked incredulously. “Do you have any bloody idea what the poppy represents?”

Stevie was ready for this one. “It represents the brutality of war, it’s blood red colour a symbol of the blood of our children that has been left on the field of battle.”

“If you could just tell me before…” Tippy tried again.

“You have children fighting then?” he asked.

“No, I have no children,” said Stevie. “I mean our children as in the collective young of the country.”

“Well George over there, he has a son who was lost in battle, let’s ask him what he thinks. Oy, George,” he yelled. George came over, and he said, “this one here says your William shouldn’t have been fighting, but was too stupid to realize it. What’s more that he is collectively all of ours, not just yours.”

“Oh?” he said looking at us. “You cried when William died then?”

“No,” we said. I was about to say “Sorry for your loss,” or some such, when he said “How about a good swift kick in the groin then, and you can get an idea of the hurt, although I’d have to stand here kicking you for the next six months to give full effect.”

“No thank you,” was all I could muster, when he said to Stevie. “So you would wear your cowards poppy in honour of my son, would you?”

She was about to reply, when I heard someone yelling from the other side of the cenotaph.

“What the hell are you doing?” someone yelled.

Tippy came running around with his pants lowered. “I’m sorry sir. I drank a big bottle of water, you see. For medicinal purposes,” he was saying. As he ran out, we saw an old vet, about 75 years old, running after him and belting him over the head with a cane.

“What happened?” the fellow we were talking too asked, and the old fellow with the cane said: “he was pissing on the memorial.”

“Don’t worry,” said another gentleman with a camera, “I got pictures.”

Humour, Remembrance

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