Canada's war veterans are
girding for a new battle, this time against peace activists
they say have hijacked their long-standing floral symbol.
A store in Edmonton, Alberta, is distributing white poppy
replicas that the Royal Canadian Legion said is a "disturbing"
and "illegal" infringement of the red poppies worn on lapels
since just after World War One to commemorate those killed in
A Legion official said that Remembrance Day on November 11
is the only time of year they ask citizens to wear the poppies
to pay tribute to the 117,000 military personnel who have died
"It's something symbolic, which encroaches on a registered
trademark, for one thing," Legion spokesman Rod Stewart said of
the "white poppies for peace."
"But it puts a political slant on the meaning of
Remembrance Day and that's unacceptable in our eyes."
White poppy distributor Michael Kalmanovitch, owner of
Earth's General Store, said the version he's distributing was
first produced in Britain in the 1930s to symbolize hope that
humanity would move beyond armed conflict to solve disputes.
Kalmanovitch said he ordered 200 white poppies from the
activist Peace Pledge Union in London. It his his third year of
Legion officials have told him that poppies of any colour
are their registered trademark and the alternative ones are
But Kalmanovitch said he has no intention to stop
distributing the white symbols. He said he wears both versions,
and does not consider the white ones to be discourteous to the
"We're not saying 'or', we're saying 'and'," Kalmanovitch
said. "I do respect those people who went off and got hurt or
killed in those wars ... but I hope we live in a society where
everything can withstand criticism or examination."
The tradition of wearing commemorative red poppies in
Canada, Britain and other counties comes from the World War One
poem "In Flanders Fields", a tribute to the fallen written by
Canadian Lt-Col John McCrae, which begins: "In Flanders fields
the poppies blow, Between the crosses row on row..."
© 2006 Reuters