Here is a throw-back question. Have you ever worn one of these? Do you know what it means? And where it came from?
When I was growing up, everyone wore these silk or crepe or plastic poppies twice a year: for Memorial Day and for Veterans Day. We were in Canada over the weekend, I was pleased to see the custom is still strong with our Northern neighbors. Everywhere we went, people were wearing red poppies, and they were available in every store, coffee shop, restaurant, pub, etc. People could just take one, and leave a donation for the Veterans if they felt so led. I was happy to leave a few American dollars in amongst all the Canadian currency, just as I am proud to support our Veterans in the US. Thank you to our Canadian friends. So great to see all the honor and remembrance to those who have served, both Canadian and American. Today, Jim and I wore ours on our lapels on the ferry back to Anacortes, WA from Vancouver Island, BC.
November 11th, is Veterans Day
Thank you Veterans, for your service. We honor and appreciate you all. My dad, my brother, my husband, and many in our extended families have served or are serving in our military. Our fathers served during WWll. Mine stateside as support, and Jim’s dad was a POW in Germany.
So what about the Red Poppy? How did it become a symbol of remembrance?
In Flanders Fields.
War had destroyed the once fertile fields in the region of Belgian Flanders. Nothing grew. Then, as spring began, the red field poppy began to appear in clusters around and in the battlefields. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian Army physician, had witnessed the horrors of war and death. The little poppy caught his attention. New life springing up after so much death and destruction. He wrote a poem, “In Flanders Fields,” following the death of a friend. One stanza immortalized the red poppy.
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.
A young woman named Moina Michael, who was working at the YMCA in New York, helping with the war effort at home, read the poem, then titled “We Shall Not Sleep” in a magazine. She was touched by that stanza and began wearing a red silk poppy in remembrance of those who lost their lives. Her poppy caught attention, and others wanted one. Due to her tireless efforts, the poppy eventually became a national memorial symbol. The Remembrance Poppy.