In Flanders Fields
Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D.
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.
I’ve been a bit thoughtful of late concerning veterans, memorials, battles and banners. I’ve had this disposition for a while, but with the posting of the video (The Stone) and my perception of a Republic drifting off course (my opinion); well…I’ve been thoughtful. Over the last couple of weeks I have become somewhat familiar with two veteran organizations; these being the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and The American Legion. Although I do have the “veteran” tag, my time of service disqualifies me from these bodies…and rightly so. They have the distinction of catering to those who have served in time of conflict. Anyway, in my studies and correspondence I have learned the meaning of the little red “poppies” that are handed out by these groups (usually stationing themselves by storefronts) after a donation of any size, at certain times of the year. It seems that in the Belgium battlefields of World War I, red poppies would grow…even amidst the carnage. An officer in the Canadian forces, a Lt. Col. John McCrea, in 1915 (the United States not yet in the fight) penned the poem, “In Flanders Fields.” It speaks of handing the torch…to the living. Well, the “poppy” has become a symbol of remembrance and reminder. It should help us remember the sacrifice given, and a reminder that each bloom is touched by a veteran (disabled, or in some other way impaired) and that one hundred percent of the donation goes for the help of these.
I was driving my old GMC Vandura down a back street when I saw him. There, seated in a metal folding chair, a graying veteran with a red coffee can in one hand, and red poppies in the other. I didn’t need anything at the drug store that day, but I had a “need” to be thankful. So I stopped, walked up to him (he was busy with another) placed a buck in the bucket and asked, “American Legion?” “VFW,” he replied. I shook his hand, said, “Thank you, for your service.” And then I walked away. The little red poppy is now attached to my tool pouch. And there it will stay until it falls off…or it is replaced by another.