Saturday, May 18, is designated as Poppy Day in my town this year. American Legion veterans with bouquets of red paper poppies will be posted at just two locations. Donations are accepted for a poppy, as always, and used to buy small gifts of appreciation given to our veterans housed in nearby hospitals and nursing homes.
Poppy Day is my special day to remember American history and our veterans who shed their blood to ensure my American freedom. As I grew up, World Wars I and II veterans were posted all over town collecting donations to support our veterans. Add Korea, Vietnam, Granada and more middle East conflicts to the list of wars to which our veterans have been called to duty and shed more of their blood. Personally, I've added Benghazi, Libya and our four recently murdered patriots to my Poppy day list.
Do you know of the Flanders fields' poppies? Chemical warfare was used on our troops. Lt. Col. John McCrae was a Canadian soldier, physician and poet. He tended both Canadian and American soldiers, wounded and poisoned, in his small tent at the edge of a field where those who did not survive were buried. McCrae's friend Alexis Helmer was killed 2 June 1915; McCrae performed the burial service himself. That evening as the doctor stood looking over the grave sites, he memorialized the scene in his poem, In Flanders Fields:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Poppy seeds, usually dormant, having been disturbed by rumblings of war, military vehicles, bombings, bloodshed, shovels and graves, were roused to put down roots and send up blooms - so fields of poppies, bright red poppies, bloomed as far as the doctor's eyes could see - becoming a symbol of the horror and bloodshed of war. Remember - and buy a poppy!
Nancy yTe \