We all recognize the red poppy as the symbol of Remembrance Day. We wear them over our hearts to commemorate the contributions made by the brave Canadians who have served our country and who continue to serve today. But did you know that there are other flowers that can play a role in reminding us of important moments in our history? Veterans Affairs Canada came up with a short list of flowers that are symbolic of the emotions that represent what Remembrance Day is all about.
These flowers have a special meaning in Newfoundland and Labrador, where they are worn as symbols of remembrance. Before joining Canada in 1949, Newfoundlanders traditionally observed Memorial Day on July 1st each year. On this day in 1916, just over 800 soldiers in the Newfoundland Regiment fought at Beaumont-Hamel in France during the Battle of the Somme. The next morning, only 68 soldiers were able to answer roll call; the rest were wounded, declared missing, or had lost their lives. It was a terrible loss for the people of Newfoundland.
The forget-me-not began as a symbol of respect, but similar to the poppy, the flower became a source of revenue for wounded Veterans. If you travel to Newfoundland and Labrador on July 1st, you will still see small, fabric forget-me-nots worn as a sign of remembrance.
During the Second World War, Crown Princess Juliana, daughter of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, travelled to Halifax by secretly boarding a Dutch vessel in 1940. She and her family took up residence in Ottawa, and were kept safe for the remainder of the War. She was extremely grateful for our nation’s hospitality, and for the bravery and sacrifice shown by the thousands of Canadians who fought to liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945.
To thank Canadians for their kindness, Princess Juliana presented Canada with 100,000 tulip bulbs. To this day, Canada continues to receive 20,000 bulbs from Holland each year. As a result, the tulip has come to represent gratitude and the unique friendship that developed between Canada and the Netherlands during the Second World War. Make sure you visit Ottawa in the spring to see the millions of tulips burst into bloom.
The daisy is symbolic of hope and resistance, and has a similar history to the tulip. During the occupation of her country in the Second World War, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands sought refuge in the United Kingdom. When her country was invaded, daisies had been blooming all over Holland so the flower held special significant for her. Queen Wilhelmina encouraged Dutch refugees to wear daisies on their lapels to remind them of their nationality and of Holland’s resistance under occupation.
On January 19, 1943, Queen Wilhelmina’s only child, Princess Juliana, gave birth to her third child at a hospital in Ottawa. Her baby was the first royal child born in North America. The Canadian Government passed a special law declaring the hospital room she occupied to be international territory, allowing the baby to inherit her full Dutch citizenship. The birth of Princess Juliana’s daughter became a symbol of hope and inspiration for the people of the Netherlands, who were facing many hardships in the months leading up to their liberation.
The maple leaf was first used as a military symbol in 1860, when it was incorporated into the badge of the 100th Regiment (Royal Canadians). During the First World War, the leaf was a prominent part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force badges. The maple leaf was used by Canadian troops as a symbol for a variety of things in the Second World War, from regimental badges to identifying Canadian army and naval equipment. On February 15, 1965, the red maple leaf flag was inaugurated as the national flag of Canada and since then, it has been a symbol of pride and patriotism for Canadians.
The hibiscus, also known as the Rose of Sharon, is the national flower of Korea. The beauty of the flower is said to symbolize the glory and success of the Korean people. The flower’s name in Korean (Mugunghwa) means “immortal flower” and represents their ability to persevere. The Rose of Sharon stands for resilience, and holds special meaning for Canadians who served during the Korean War.