The red poppy

Interesting, today I walked around Microsoft and did some digging for what should be in our next Channel 9 videos and I met Warren Stevens over on the IE team. He’s development lead. But that’s not what’s important. He was wearing a red poppy on his shirt. He told me what that’s all about.

It is a symbol that Canadians (correction: and others) wear around this time of year to remember their war dead. November 11 is Remembrance Day. He recited — from memory — the poem in Flanders Fields. What an emotional poem. My little HTML characters aren’t doing it justice. But Warren did.

After talking with Warren I sauntered out of building 2 along the paths near the soccer fields on Microsoft’s main campus and thinking that I have the best job in the whole wide world. I get to hang out with really great people. And I get to talk about technology and life with them.

And they get to remind me that millions of people have died so that I can have the life I now lead.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the Memeorandum gaming, or the Ray Ozzie memos, and forget that we’re building products for people. And that people build those products.

Thanks Warren for reminding me of what’s important in life. Simply by wearing a red poppy.

Comments

  1. It’s not just Canada that has rememberance day today.
    I know we have it here in Oz as well.

    There were people selling the red poppies at the train station this morning.

  2. It’s not just Canada that has rememberance day today.
    I know we have it here in Oz as well.

    There were people selling the red poppies at the train station this morning.

  3. Why single out Canada? It’s basically a symbol for all of the Allies. The Salvation Army, YMCA, and other groups have been selling them (asking for a donation) outside of grocery stores across Amercia since WWII ended and still do.

  4. Why single out Canada? It’s basically a symbol for all of the Allies. The Salvation Army, YMCA, and other groups have been selling them (asking for a donation) outside of grocery stores across Amercia since WWII ended and still do.

  5. The red poppy tradition in America was started by Moina Michael. They even lionized her on a stamp. Later on Madame Guérin exported the symbolic idea to Europe. And even later still it became an American Legion symbol. Red poppy countries: USA, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but most common in Britain, Canada and Australia.

    Red poppies became associated with Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) as poppies grew in the battlefields of Flanders in World War I, later immortalized in the poem that inspired Michael. Being that America doesn’t much still celebrate Armistice (Nov. 11), and lumps all under Memorial, and as the Greatest Generation fades in history, the tradition has somewhat lost itself. But I have seen Red Poppies for sale at even ‘no solicitors allowed’ Walmarts.

    http://www.greatwar.co.uk/umbrella/inspiration.htm – Some history, good read.

  6. The red poppy tradition in America was started by Moina Michael. They even lionized her on a stamp. Later on Madame Guérin exported the symbolic idea to Europe. And even later still it became an American Legion symbol. Red poppy countries: USA, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but most common in Britain, Canada and Australia.

    Red poppies became associated with Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) as poppies grew in the battlefields of Flanders in World War I, later immortalized in the poem that inspired Michael. Being that America doesn’t much still celebrate Armistice (Nov. 11), and lumps all under Memorial, and as the Greatest Generation fades in history, the tradition has somewhat lost itself. But I have seen Red Poppies for sale at even ‘no solicitors allowed’ Walmarts.

    http://www.greatwar.co.uk/umbrella/inspiration.htm – Some history, good read.

  7. Minor correction: It is spelled “Remembrance Day”, not “Rememberance Day”.

    In Canada (and probably several other countries) wearing a poppy is _strongly_ associated with Remembrance Day, so that probably a majority of the population wears them in the days leading up to (and including) Nov 11. I was unaware that this was any sort of an ongoing tradition in the US, so I was surprised (and pleased) to hear from Goebbels that several American groups also sell them.

  8. Minor correction: It is spelled “Remembrance Day”, not “Rememberance Day”.

    In Canada (and probably several other countries) wearing a poppy is _strongly_ associated with Remembrance Day, so that probably a majority of the population wears them in the days leading up to (and including) Nov 11. I was unaware that this was any sort of an ongoing tradition in the US, so I was surprised (and pleased) to hear from Goebbels that several American groups also sell them.

  9. Seven years ago, my wife and I were in London on November 11, and that’s when I learned about poppies. It was an interesting day, because my birthday is November 11.

    By the way, check out the lyrics for Sting’s song, “Children’s Crusade”. You now know the meaning of the phrase “poppies for young men,” though, in the last verse, the phrase has a very different meaning.

  10. Seven years ago, my wife and I were in London on November 11, and that’s when I learned about poppies. It was an interesting day, because my birthday is November 11.

    By the way, check out the lyrics for Sting’s song, “Children’s Crusade”. You now know the meaning of the phrase “poppies for young men,” though, in the last verse, the phrase has a very different meaning.

  11. As a retired Canadian service person, I was surprised and delighted to see a post on the poppy on your blog, Robert.

    Thank you.

  12. As a retired Canadian service person, I was surprised and delighted to see a post on the poppy on your blog, Robert.

    Thank you.

  13. And, if you’re a Blackadder fan, you now also understand the significance of the final shot in the final episode of the final series :-|

  14. And, if you’re a Blackadder fan, you now also understand the significance of the final shot in the final episode of the final series :-|

  15. For those who are interested, CBC has a nice article up on the background of Rememberance Day in Canada at http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/remembranceday/, and there’s a good picture of two different versions of the poppy we wear. For as long as I can remember growing up the middle of the poppies were green, but apparently before that they were black. In the last couple of years they’ve switched back to having black middles, which is more appropriate for what actually grows in Flanders Fields

    The poppy I’ve been wearning all week actually came from a cigar box of poppies my wife’s grandfather kept. He served in WWII and when he died we got the box with about 40 different poppies he’d worn during his lifetime.

    Neil

  16. For those who are interested, CBC has a nice article up on the background of Rememberance Day in Canada at http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/remembranceday/, and there’s a good picture of two different versions of the poppy we wear. For as long as I can remember growing up the middle of the poppies were green, but apparently before that they were black. In the last couple of years they’ve switched back to having black middles, which is more appropriate for what actually grows in Flanders Fields

    The poppy I’ve been wearning all week actually came from a cigar box of poppies my wife’s grandfather kept. He served in WWII and when he died we got the box with about 40 different poppies he’d worn during his lifetime.

    Neil

  17. Robert, we also observe two minutes silence at 11:00 am on 11/11. Even at work it’s normally announced and everyone stops for two minutes.

    You’ll also find many war veterans and peacekeeper veterans selling poppies in malls and subway stations with the money going to veteran’s groups. I will always go out of my way to buy a poppie from a veteran or two and say thanks for their service.

    Thanks for the writeup, I hope it catches on with more Americans.

  18. Robert, we also observe two minutes silence at 11:00 am on 11/11. Even at work it’s normally announced and everyone stops for two minutes.

    You’ll also find many war veterans and peacekeeper veterans selling poppies in malls and subway stations with the money going to veteran’s groups. I will always go out of my way to buy a poppie from a veteran or two and say thanks for their service.

    Thanks for the writeup, I hope it catches on with more Americans.

  19. As a Brit and ex Royal Ait Force cadet I used to sell poppies in the street to raise money for poppy appeal. In addition to wearing a poppy I also fix one to the top-right corner of my monitor as a more permanent fixture in the few weeks around remembrance day.

    People visiting the office etc. can then see it and remember that they too want to go buy a poppy to help support those who gave their all to support us.

    Go do it if you can, donate generously and fix a poppy to your monitor.

  20. As a Brit and ex Royal Ait Force cadet I used to sell poppies in the street to raise money for poppy appeal. In addition to wearing a poppy I also fix one to the top-right corner of my monitor as a more permanent fixture in the few weeks around remembrance day.

    People visiting the office etc. can then see it and remember that they too want to go buy a poppy to help support those who gave their all to support us.

    Go do it if you can, donate generously and fix a poppy to your monitor.

  21. Scoble and Perspective

    The Scoble bunny is one of my favorite bloggers. He plays to my geek side (which I attempt to deny) and is a wonderful example of the disruptive corporate blogger. Robert both champions and challenges his employer constantly. But

  22. We shouldn’t forget that those people lost their lives only because democracy broke down. It is sad that world leaders rely on the lives of their soldiers when they can’t deal with foreign relations issues.

  23. We shouldn’t forget that those people lost their lives only because democracy broke down. It is sad that world leaders rely on the lives of their soldiers when they can’t deal with foreign relations issues.

  24. It’s pretty easy to forget what’s important in life when working for a convicted criminal organization like Microsoft whose only metric for success is the number of alternatives squashed and the amount of money forcibly extracted from consumers.

  25. It’s pretty easy to forget what’s important in life when working for a convicted criminal organization like Microsoft whose only metric for success is the number of alternatives squashed and the amount of money forcibly extracted from consumers.

  26. orbit: sometimes I write things just cause I’m feeling that way. Glad to know you think my blog is about you. Guess what? Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s about me. :-)

  27. orbit: sometimes I write things just cause I’m feeling that way. Glad to know you think my blog is about you. Guess what? Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s about me. :-)

  28. Poppies are also sold for charity during the period around Veterans Day (Nov. 11) in the United States by the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In my family, it is traditional to buy a poppy or two and wear them. This custom seems to be fading away, however. :-(

  29. Poppies are also sold for charity during the period around Veterans Day (Nov. 11) in the United States by the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In my family, it is traditional to buy a poppy or two and wear them. This custom seems to be fading away, however. :-(

  30. I hadn’t realized this wasn’t an “Allies-wide” thing. Every country I’ve lived in has done it. I just never imagined it wouldn’t be an across-America thing as well.

    Weird.

    Guess that explains why I couldn’t find a poppy for my son in NYC this week (he’s born on Remembrance Day, and we have a very young tradition (he’s 1 tomorrow) of finding a new poppy every year for him).

  31. I hadn’t realized this wasn’t an “Allies-wide” thing. Every country I’ve lived in has done it. I just never imagined it wouldn’t be an across-America thing as well.

    Weird.

    Guess that explains why I couldn’t find a poppy for my son in NYC this week (he’s born on Remembrance Day, and we have a very young tradition (he’s 1 tomorrow) of finding a new poppy every year for him).

  32. Hey Jeremy, if you can’t find one in New York send me your address (you can email me through my blog) and I’ll send you a poppy in the mail.

  33. Hey Jeremy, if you can’t find one in New York send me your address (you can email me through my blog) and I’ll send you a poppy in the mail.

  34. Howdy john im trying to find a poppy too this girl jacky is being a poo poo head,im trying to help her but no!she gets what she wants. oh well im gonna go i’ll talk to you later. PCE Yall

  35. Howdy john im trying to find a poppy too this girl jacky is being a poo poo head,im trying to help her but no!she gets what she wants. oh well im gonna go i’ll talk to you later. PCE Yall