November 6, 2017
By: Kristopher Smith
It is time to put away the Halloween costumes but for the love of God DO NOT, I repeat… DO NOT start celebrating the Christmas season just yet? There is a very important day in between these two events: Remembrance Day.
Before you put up the tree, go and pick up a poppy and wear it with pride. I make a habit of picking up mine as soon as I see them available. Some two weeks (give or take) out of the year is not nearly long enough to show your appreciation for men and women who died for us so that we might be able to celebrate the holiday season seemingly earlier and earlier and not have to sing “O Christmas Tree” in German. (That one has most to do with World War II vets, but you get the point…).
I know I might be ruffling some feathers with this staunch stance on when we can celebrate Christmas and Facebook is often littered with statuses every year that oppose my view.
I consider myself a patriotic bro. I think that is part of the reason I feel so strongly about wearing a poppy and paying respect for those who have fought for our country. Another reason is a personal one; like almost everyone who is going to read this article I have had relatives who have fought in wars dating back to WWI but the reason I’m so passionate about Remembrance Day is because of one relative in particular, William Mundon.
This man was my great-grandfather and a shining example of the type of person I strive to be. My Pop Mundon died when I was six years old but in the short time, I knew him I could see how great he was (and not just because he liked to watch wrestling with me and would rent Hulk Hogan tapes for us to watch).
I guess I always kind of knew that Pop had fought in World War II but I did not know the details about it. Pop was one of First 200 to sail overseas in November of 1939 and like many people, lied about his age in order to do so.
While researching for this article I learned that Newfoundland’s Commission of Government chose not to invoke conscription, meaning that the 22,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who enlisted did so willingly. Keep in mind the province had a population of only 300,000 people at the time which is an insanely impressive stat for and something we should be proud.
Throughout the years I have learned that Pop survived a torpedo attack on the HMCS Scotstoun on June 13, 1940. Through conversing with my great-aunt, I learned that Pop was left along with the other survivors, hanging onto debris in the middle of the ocean. Apparently, a German sub would eventually surface but they did not take anyone prisoner. The captain apparently said that there was another British ship in the area and it should be coming to rescue them.
Reading about this automatically made me think of “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” as well as the Christmas truce during World War I between the Germans and the Allies. (OK…so Christmas creeps in…I get it…but fight it and wear your poppy?) These stories show human (or in the song’s case interspecies) compassion in times of war and are stories that maybe should be discussed more when we learn about the wars.
I don’t really remember the first time I wore a poppy, it may not have been when I was in Kindergarten but that was definitely the first time I wore a poppy with pride. My class was herded to the gym for our school’s Remembrance Day assembly and I saw my pop, wearing his uniform, medals, and sitting up on the stage with other veterans and dignitaries. I don’t remember what was said during this assembly but I remember feeling very proud (if I even knew what pride felt like at five years old) of the man sitting up on stage, and not just because he too was a Hulkamaniac.
This was a man who lied about his age to go defend his country, survived being torpedoed and God knows what else. That is pretty bad-ass if you ask me and so many boys did the same thing. You see how badly Steve Rogers wants to defend his country in Captain America: The First Avenger but these boys went and fought without a super soldier serum.
The amount of courage and to borrow a phrase from a favorite wrestler/author of mine, “testicular fortitude” that these guys must have had is astounding. In fact, I’d say that anyone who signed up to fight for our country after World War I, knowing the horrors of “the great war” definitely possess these same qualities. (This was not a dig at, or an attempt to diminish the contributions made by World War I veterans either, just that the world had not ever experienced something like that before).
This is why I think it’s so important to wear a poppy. I have read articles in recent years about debates on which color poppy if any you should wear and I respect where these arguments come from. I don’t believe that fighting solves anything, I don’t believe in flexing your military might just because you can, I don’t believe in war; I believe in diplomacy. I believe in working through differences and maintaining peace. Bono sings “Victory is not in a battle’s art/victory is in a peaceful heart” in an updated version of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” featuring a guest appearance by JAY-Z and I fully support this but sometimes our peace is threatened and we need to call upon brave men and women to defend us.
So please, keep this in mind. Don’t not wear a poppy because you don’t believe in war. Don’t wear a white poppy because you want peace. Wear the red. Pick one up while you’re out shopping and generally enjoying freedon from The Royal Canadian Legion and wear it with pride. The Poppy Campaign honours those who serve and also raise funds for Veterans and their families. As their website states, “Honoring veterans is our duty”.
So why do you wear a poppy? The main reason I do is because of my own.
Another version of this article was previously published here.