do i wear a poppy?

posted by andrea

Do I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day? Or, do I remember? According to Wikipedia, Remembrance Day is a “Commonwealth holiday to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war.”

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Habour, Hawaii in 1941, Executive Order 9066 was ordered by the president of United States to “relocate” members of the Japanese ancestry to “internment camps”. More than half these people, were American citizens, born and raised in America, they simply happened to look like the soldiers who bombed Pearl Habour. According to George Takei (an internment camps survivor), there were no trial and no charges laid upon the Japanese-Americans, they were all, just taken without much justification.

These camps involved barb wires, machine guns pointed to the face. Let’s face it, they were nothing but concentration camps. These Japanese-Americans were held there throughout the war, in which, many decided to join the U.S. Army Force. In 1944, the 442nd combat team, an Asian-American unit, which consisted mostly of Japanese-Americans suffered over 800 casualties in the “Lost Battalion”. The 442nd had a casualty rate five times higher than average. While these soldiers were in war, their families were still held in “internment camps”, facing daily discrimination and struggle to survive. When they came back to America, discrimination continued and many towns overtly expressed the need to “keep their homes free of Japs.”

Canada was not better, the government relocated Japanese-Canadians to similar “internment camps,” stealing their rightful claims to properties, freedom, innocence and dignity. Similarly, many Japanese-Canadians also served in the war, only to find out later that they would be repatriated or resettled back to Japan, or East to the Rockies. Both were lands that they knew nothing about.

Though I can never be sure, these Canadians and Americans also had a high chance of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, survivors’ guilt, etc.

At the same time, many Chinese-Canadians (after the ridiculous history of the “Chinese Exclusion Act”, 1923) joined the army but the Canadian government was unwilling to send these people to action because they didn’t want them to ask for enfranchisement after the war. In my opinion, since the Chinese came in so handy (and disposable) when it comes to explosive during the building of the CPR, they made a terrible decision.

Knowing these unsettling histories, I went to the Veterans Affairs Canada website, specifically, to the “Whom do we remember” section. Not surprisingly, none of the above was mentioned, and I only saw pictures of white faces. I, hereby, am in no way making statements that European-Canadians shouldn’t be remembered for their efforts and sacrifices. However, it is disappointing that the Canadian government doesn’t seem to remember other ethnic Canadians who made the same sacrifices and experienced the same sufferings.

So, no, I do not wear a poppy, not because I refuse to acknowledge the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and civilians, but because our government doesn’t.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “do i wear a poppy?

  1. Tim

    There’s also the whole Opium Wars thing… that doesn’t really help with the symbolism of poppies.

  2. Celine

    My grandfathers were victims of war too, participating in a war they weren’t sure what about, and consequently my grandmothers, my parents, my aunts and uncles — but this day isn’t supposed to be about them, because it’s about “Canadian” veterans — and MY citizenship (for which my parents had to go through all sorts of patronizing processes) apparently loses its magical power to make me a Canadian on Remembrance day.

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