Many Canadians will pop a quarter in the Royal Canadian Legion box and simply pin a poppy to their shirt this month. And that’s OK, according to the legion.
However, for current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces, there’s a “proper” way to wear that powerful little symbol — and you can do it, too.
The poppy should always be worn on your left side, over the heart, according to the legion’s official guidelines. The veteran-run organization is responsible for handing out tens of thousands of artificial poppies every year, and its members are always happy to show you how to wear them.
According to the legion’s guidelines, the “over-the-heart” position is the most appropriate and respectful way to wear a poppy. However, the legion also says remembrance should be a “personal expression” for each Canadian — so there is no wrong way to do it.
“How someone chooses to wear a poppy is always an individual choice,” the legion says.
The legion does not offer guidelines around which way the pin should point. However, it does say that you should not obstruct the poppy when attaching it to your clothing. Some legion representatives will even have pins with a back on them, just in case you want to attach your poppy more securely.
Current members of the Canadian Armed Forces have more specific guidelines around the way to wear a poppy. Those guidelines can offer you some ideas for where to pin your own poppy, even if you don’t own your own high-collar white Navy jacket.
The Canadian Armed Forces’ dress manual lays out exactly where the poppy should be attached on every kind of uniform, from formalwear to everyday uniforms to heavy parkas.
The poppy is usually affixed to the breast pocket of a shirt or the lapel of a jacket.
Canadian Armed Forces members will wear the poppy on the left side in nearly all cases, except in some situations involving certain jackets, when they affix the poppy to their tie above the tie clip.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have similar guidelines for wearing the poppy, although they’re not as wide-ranging.
Officers should wear the poppy on their left lapel, “between the buttonhole and the top of the breast pocket,” according to the RCMP Veterans’ Association of Toronto. The poppy can be worn a little higher up if there are medals on the lapel.
Poppies should be worn from the last Friday in October until Nov. 11, according to legion guidelines.
The legion says you should dispose of your poppy “respectfully” after Remembrance Day or store it for next year.
The legion also recommends picking up and dusting off any lost poppies you find out of respect for those who have served.