Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.11.11
Stanstead, Quebec


How to wear a poppy

This past week, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois came under fire from veterans and other people spoiling for a fight because she used a miniature Quebec flag to pin her Remembrance Day poppy in place on her lapel.

Marois quickly relented because, as all Canadians know, you don't mess with the vets.

It turns out, though, that the Royal Canadian Legion also frowns on using Canadian flags to hold the poppies in place on your lapel. In fact, you shouldn't use any kind of pin with a backing but only the straight pin that comes with the poppy, thereby ensuring that you honour the symbol of the poppy while simultaneously supporting the Legion with your donations because the bloody things won't stay on and you end up buying three to get you through to November 11.

Who knew the poppy had rules?

Just to make it clear, here are the other rules regarding the proper wearing of a poppy:

1) Wear the poppy on your left lapel near your heart.

2) Do not amend the poppy with a flag or political symbol.

3) Do not draw a smiley face on the poppy.

4) Explain to children that the poppy represents the flowers that bloomed prolifically in the battlefields of France after the earth-churning bombardments of World War I.

5) Do not explain to a child that we wear poppies because they are pretty.

6) Do not pierce your ear with the poppy pin.

7) Do not pierce anything else with a poppy pin. You know what? Just don't pierce anything else.

8) Do not take the pin out of the poppy, fold the poppy in half, insert it in your mouth and pretend they're lips, unless, of course, you're five years old, in which case this is adorable.

9) Do not pay just a buck -- grab a dozen poppies out of the donation tray, poke them into a Styrofoam ball on a stick, hand them to a loved one and try to pass it off as a bouquet of flowers.

10) Do not pay just a buck for a poppy, you cheapskate!

11) Do not joke about the poppy.

12) Do not talk behind the poppy's back.

13) Do not pick the poppy last when choosing teams.

14) Remember that the poppy is kind of sensitive and has been through quite a lot.

15) Do not stash your poppy at the end of November so you don't have to buy another one next year, you cheapskate!

16) Do not use your poppy pin as a weapon, unless you are attacked by a pacifist.

17) Understand that the sale of poppies benefits veterans and their families.

18) Do not resell your poppy at five percent markup.

19) Do not step on or drive over the poppy, even if the ground is littered with them because, honest to God, the bloody things seriously won't stay on!

20) Do not pin the poppy to your own political agenda.

21) Do not fetishize the poppy.

22) Do not lie awake fretting about whether people are improperly wearing the poppy.

23) Do not call someone wearing a poppy "Mr. Poppy Pants."

24) Do not use the poppy as a pick-up line, e.g. "You know what else grows in Flanders Fields...?"

25) Do try to use the poppy as a means of recalling the sacrifices and horrors of war, which most of us, blessedly, have never had to experience, allowing us the freedom to make lighthearted jokes about tragic pasts and sacred cows.

If you can't remember all that, at least remember these important Remembrance Day poppy rules:

1) Wear a poppy.

2) Wear a poppy.

3) Don't forget to wear a poppy.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at