Re: "White poppy or red poppy?" poll, November 5.
Poppies remind us of peace as we remember the soldiers who died in the First World War. White poppies also remind us of the millions of innocent civilians who die in wars. War is less and less about soldiers going into battle. Today, soldiers can sit in bunkers in Nevada directing drones to drop bombs in Afghanistan. War is more and more about killing or maiming civilians and destroying their livelihoods, sometimes damaging their countries for generations yet to come. It takes a long time to recover from a war---for both civilians and soldiers.
Politicians take their countries into war. Neither soldiers nor civilians have much to say about it. We learned that even Canadian generals originally advised a Liberal government against going into war in Afghanistan. They said this was a war we were not equipped to fight, amongst a people and on a terrain we could not hope to understand. They were right. When there is no conscription, soldiers have a choice about whether to fight. But should they, once in the military, realize the consequences of their choice, it is difficult to leave.
It undermines the spirit of the white poppy to ask us to choose between the white and the red. We should wear a red poppy to remember the soldiers who have died. We should wear a white poppy to remember civilians. We should wear them both together to remember the terrible costs of going to war---for both civilians and soldiers.
—Joy Woolfrey, Halifax