Is It Offensive To Wear a Poppy After Remembrance Day?

Is It Offensive to Wear a Poppy After Remembrance Day? - My Life, I Guess
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Last updated: October 2018

Yesterday, I was leaving the grocery store when I was told by the cashier to take off the poppy that was still pinned to my coat. She said that Remembrance Day was over, and that it was offensive of me to leave it on.

I was taken aback by her comment and asked, “So, we’re only supposed to remember the veterans for 2 weeks a year?”

I couldn’t tell if she was trying to brush off the comment to avoid any further discussion or if she simply had no clue what she was talking about, but she replied, “It’s just the way it is.”

The woman in line behind me then chimed in with a simple “Leave it on” and smiled at me as I grabbed my bags and left.

War is a touchy subject, and naturally I have my own opinions of it.

I was not, however, trying to make any sort of political statement or purposely be disrespectful by leaving my poppy on. I honestly had just forgotten it was still there.

If anything, I’d think that leaving the poppy on after Remembrance Day would be a good thing. Wouldn’t it?

 

Why Do We Even Wear Poppies?

Before I continue, here’s a quick little history lesson on why we wear poppies, brought to you by the good people at Wikipedia:

“The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas. Inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields”, and promoted by Moina Michael, they were first adopted by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers killed in that war (1914–1918). They were then adopted by military veterans’ groups in parts of the British Empire.

Today, they are mostly used in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to commemorate their servicemen and women killed in all conflicts. There, small artificial poppies are often worn on clothing leading up to Remembrance Day/Armistice Day, and poppy wreaths are often laid at war memorials. In Australia and New Zealand, they are also worn on Anzac Day.”

 

Some Say Yes, It Is Offensive…

Apparently some people out there agree with the cashier, and feel that wearing a poppy after Remembrance Day it is disrespectful.

One 2008 article by CityNews I found online, states:
“…Most people don poppies about two weeks before Remembrance Day. But you shouldn’t be sporting them in the days afterwards, although many do, thinking it’s a sign of respect. The poppy is actually supposed to be left on the tomb at the place where the ceremony is held, a final sign of respect for the fallen soldiers who never came home.  Or they can be worn for the remainder of the day. But once November 12th comes, the poppies should be gone.”  [Source]

… But The Veterans Say No, It’s Not Offensive

A quick search on the Royal British Legion website states:

“You can wear a Poppy at any time of the year to show your support.”  [Source]

“You can wear a Poppy all year round but traditionally people stop wearing a Poppy after Armistice Day on 11th November or Remembrance Sunday, whichever is later.” [Source]

As a Canadian, I wanted to see if we held the same view on the subject as the British do. According to the Royal Canadian Legion’s website:

“When is a poppy worn? – There is no set period when the Poppy should be worn. In fact, a person may wear a Poppy at any time. Traditionally, however, the Poppy is worn during the Remembrance period, which is from the last Friday in October to the end of the day on 11 November.” [updated Source 1 and Source 2]

No matter what your stand is on war or poppy etiquette, telling someone it’s offensive to wear a poppy after Remembrance Day is incorrect.

Is It Offensive To Wear a Poppy After Remembrance Day?

There are a lot of issues raised around the subject of wearing a poppy:

The correct amount of time you are allowed to wear your poppy, shouldn’t be one of them.

Is it “offensive” to wear a pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness outside of October? Is it “offensive” for men to grow mustaches in any month other than November? Of course not! So why would it be offensive to wear a poppy after November 11th?

That said, the tradition is that the Poppy is removed at the end of Remembrance Day, and is placed on the cenotaph or on a wreath, or stored or disposed of as a sign of respect. [Source]

What do you think?  Do you wear your poppy after Remembrance Day?

Is It Offensive to Wear a Poppy After Remembrance Day? - My Life, I Guess
   

17 thoughts on “Is It Offensive To Wear a Poppy After Remembrance Day?

  1. eemusings

    That’s baffling. I mean, I have no skin in the game and am probably not the person to ask, but I think you have nothing to apologise for.

    Reply

  2. Andrew Marling

    The answer to this woman’s charge is .. poppycock!

    Wear your poppy with gratitude all through November if you wish.

    Reply

  3. Jeff

    I don’t stop being thankful just because Nov 12 has rolled around. I wouldn’t have the life I live without their sacrifice. That’s not something a calendar can measure.

    Reply

    1. Amanda

      Absolutely! Thanks for reading and commenting, Jeff :)

      Reply

  4. Sam

    The Royal Canadian Legion, the veteran support organization that operates the Poppy Campaign, states in their manual that poppies should be removed “immediately following the end of Remembrance Day.”

    The appropriate thing to do would be to place it at a cenotaph remembrance day immediately following the ceremony …if you are unable to do so and would like to keep it pinned it in your car or place it in your home wearing it is not appropriate… You could also place it at a grave site of a loved one or military member ….

    Former military member

    Reply

  5. david

    As a former serving member who has lost friends in combat I would challenge anyone to ask me to remove my poppy; I have a few choice words for you. I will wear mine as long as i still have and I don’t care what some bureaucratic traditionalist will say. To even suggest that it is a rule is a mindless statement and I don’t care whose pen may have scribbled such crap. I remember my friends and i remember the sacrifice they made. I will always remember them….. no matter the season, the date, nor the time on the clock.

    Reply

  6. Tj

    My partner was asked to remove her poppy pin badge by a guest at a function this week, as he said it was offensive to the memory of those who died. Apparently it should only be worn till November 12th.
    However after reading the comments on this site, especially the one from the Royal British Legion, I’ve no intention of removing my pin badge. The fallen veterans deserve to be remembered and honoured all year round. Remembrance Day is deservingly special and always will be, but let’s keep those who died in our thoughts 365 days a year. Without their sacrifice God only knows what sort of lives we’d have today.

    Reply

  7. B. Crysler

    I put my poppy on about 4,5 years back and haven’t taken it off yet.The people I am remembering were related to me,but most were not;but they died so we could live to do as we pleased,and argue about such things this!But these guys and gals were REAL people,who lived in our times,died in our times.
    A poppy is like a crucifix that people wear to remember,indeed even worship…my poppy means even more!!

    Reply

  8. Rebecca

    Late to the party here but as a serving Canadian Forces member, I feel that when I see the poppy still being worn after the 11th of November indicates that the person ‘forgot’ they were wearing it and that leads me to believe they have forgotten why they are wearing it in the first place.

    It is to remember the fallen, all of the fallen, recent of long passed, friend and foe. War is ugly and the tradition of remembering the carnage and the dead is of the utmost importance if we are trying to prevent further conflict.

    I don’t believe it should be worn year round, it lessens the impact, that small shock of red on the lapel of a coat for those few weeks reminds us all of the horror that was and can still be. Please don’t wear it past the 11th.

    And for general clarity, Remembrance Day is of of remembering the fallen, not veterans, and not the still serving. Armed Forces day is a better day to recognize those individuals.

    This is just one persons opinion. And Everyone can form their own

    Reply

  9. D Boucher

    I have no problem seeing people wear poppies after rememberance day but I was taught not to. I do know that men and women who came home to us and died for us, did so that we would have choices. So you . I also feel that wearing a poppy is for remembering the past and taking it off is for looking forward. That’s just my feeling.

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      D Boucher – I like the notion of wearing it to remember the past and taking it off to look to the future, that’s something I will remember

      Reply

  10. poem checker online

    Very Good post Thanks for share this.

    Reply

  11. Liz Singer

    Thank you for your article.
    I’ve recently pinned a Poppy on my hoodie. It’s October, I like to start wearing them early. I’ve got a Poppy on one of my jackets, it’s been there four or so years.
    A while back I asked my Dad when is it not o.k. to wear a Poppy? He told me I can wear a Poppy as long as I want to, and He liked that I wanted to. My Dad was in WW2, so I’ll take his word over anyone’s.
    We should all be able to remember the fallen however way we want, the point is that we remember and respect!

    Reply

  12. Jim McLean

    Tradition says that once Remembrance day is over the poppy should come off. Ideally it can be.left at the cenotaph or memorial. To the guy who says he has worn the same poppy for 4 years , dont you think its time to splurge and buy a new one. If you follow the guidelines of the Royal Canadian Legion you shouldnt go far wrong. Its their poppy after all.

    Reply

  13. Jason Johnson

    Super late to this party here but I have my own opinion I would like to share and hope some may agree.
    It’s my own belief that poppies can and should be worn year round. I do not believe doing so “lessens the impact” or “shows you be forgotten your wearing it” – unless maybe your colorblind.
    I do however believe that if your keeping it on all year, you do buy a new one, or still donate to the cause. I understand you’re meant to leave it on a wreath or by other means, at a memorial. Although many people who wear a poppy may not get this chance on the 11th, (which would be my own preference) I believe it’s more appropriate to keep on wearing it rather than say, chucking it in a trashcan the next day? That I find is the most disrespectful thing to do.
    So keep on wearing them, and be proud!

    Reply

  14. Erin McGovern

    As an American (apologies), we celebrate Armistice Day as Veterans Day, which is recognized on the nearest Monday. My family member was gassed in WWI- would it be inappropriate to still wear my poppy on 11/12/18, when the US observes Veterans’ Day?

    Reply

  15. unanamous

    After reading this article, I think I would like to get 2 poppies each year. One to leave at the cenotaph on rememberance day, and the second poppy to wear for a full year to leave at the cenotaph next year. Those are 2 traditions that I like.
    .

    Reply

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