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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poppies for Remembrance

In Flanders Fields
Lieut-Col John McCrae, 1915
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 amidst 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.

The red poppy has been part of Remembrance Day services since the early 1920's, and is now worn on other commemorative occasions, including ANZAC Day. During the First World War the battlefields were literally churned by high explosive shells, creating a surreal landscape of mud, entangled barbed wire and water filled craters.

When given a brief chance to recover, and especially after the 1918 Armistice, the first flowers to bloom were the red poppies. In 1915, Canadian Brigade Surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918), was so moved by the sight of the fields of poppies stretching across the Ypres battlefield that he put pen to paper and wrote his moving poem,
"In Flanders Fields."

I have mostly heard today called Veteran's Day and I honor all men and women who have or are serving our country to defend what make me be a free person. Birmingham has a Large Veteran's Day Parade downtown and I have only seen it a couple of times. When we worked downtown you got caught up in traffic from all the closed streets as they were filled with Army Tanks and School Bands. So, we just stood around and watched the parade. I love a parade, I always have!

I know my father served in Korea in the 1940's, but he never spoke much of it. It got my husband and I thinking, I don't know if my grandfathers' served or not. I really don't know. I always heard of my Mother's father working at a bread bakery and I believe that was his only job he ever had. He just always worked there. My other grandfather was killed when I was 6 years old. I remember coming home for lunch from first grade and being told about his trucking accident. I did not return to school that day. It was truly sadness that day and I do remember that we were very close.

My husband Bob remembers riding the Greyhound Bus with his grandfather to his parents and brother's graveside in Lebonan, Mo form Springfield and he is now buried in the Springfield, Mo. National Cemetary. My father also is buried in Springfield, Mo. but with a war stone at the opposite end of his headstone.

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