It’s near the middle of the 2012 remembrance period and even though the poppy has been a symbol of remembrance since 1921, some people are stumped about poppy etiquette.The first question is when it’s proper to start wearing the poppy. The poppy can be seen on lapels throughout the year at commemorative services marking significant battles or memorial services , but it’s most visible during the period leading up to Remembrance Day, beginning with presentation of the first poppy of the season to the Governor General and provincial lieutenant governors. Over the next two weeks The Royal Canadian Legion conducts the annual Poppy Campaign, which funds services for veterans of all ages throughout the country.
The poppy is traditionally worn on the left, close to the heart.
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) notes the flower should be retired at the end of Remembrance Day. Those attending the national Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa traditionally leave their poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the National War Memorial. BluFyre Productions caught the tradition at the 2010 ceremony in Ottawa:
VAC says it is acceptable after a ceremony to leave the poppy at the base of a cenotaph as a sign of respect.
The poppy was sighted on new graves during the Napoleonic Wars, but its connection to remembrance began to spread with the publication of Canadian doctor/poet Lt. Col. John McCrae’s words from In Flanders Fields, written in 1915. It was adopted in Canada as the Flower of Remembrance in 1921.