Black Remembrance Day — paint your poppy black

Peace-loving jammers,

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row . . .

Every November, for one hundred years, we have worn poppies over our hearts. Every November, we have paid our respects to those who fought, and those who fell in battle. Every November, we have honored their service and their sacrifice.

Every November, lest we forget, we remember the toll of war. We reflect on the human cost, paid in blood, wrested by bloody conflict. We weigh the innocence stolen out of soldiers' breasts, their lives stopped brutally short, their potential never to be fulfilled.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields . . .

This solemn rite deserves our observance. But it also merits our criticism.

It is not enough to take up our quarrel with warring foes who perpetrate war. It is not enough to place the blame on the evil deeds, and natures, of hostile parties. It is not enough to call a soldier's death "sacrifice," when it is theft — theft of closure, theft of family, theft of love, theft of life. A mother's theft, a father's theft, a spouse's theft, a child's theft.

Canadian soldiers fought in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Korea, Europe (twice), and South Africa. Canadian peacekeepers witnessed horrific violence in Lebanon, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Sudan, and elsewhere.

But what, and who, took them there?

Whose interests were they supposedly protecting, and why?

One hundred years ago, the "war to end all wars" came to a heavy close at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

But it was not the last war. And that should be a black stain on the consciences of all leaders of every government and every group to have enlisted armies to wage war on their behalf since.

This Remembrance Day, paint your poppy black to signify your mourning not only the losses of wars past, but of the enduring suffering — on the part of soldiers and civilians both — begotten out of war itself.

Show your solidarity with all those who died protecting noble interests — as well as those who were duped into believing they did so in the name of ignoble ones.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

That is the true duty of us civilians all: not to make a cult of martyrdom, but to see their sacrifice for what it was, whether vital necessity or folly.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


In Black Remembrance,

For the Wild,

The Blackspot Collective