I’m Not a Fan of Flowers, But I Love Poppies: (Pre)Memorial Day Post

According to the  VWF Post 1675 in Idaho, and countless other sources,  the “poppy movement” really  started  moving following the release of a poem written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a military physician who served in World War I.

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.

The original poem can be found on the Arlington National Cemetery website.

My father is a retired veteran of the  United States Navy and I love hearing stories about his experience! They are few and far between, but I remember *eavesdropping* on a conversation at McDonald’s once near a base in Myrtle Beach:

My father and I were having breakfast when a man beside him said “you have that look”. I was thinking “uh oh”…but they immediately jumped into a conversation like they were old friends. Terms like napalm which is apparently something you want no dealings with, popped up, missions, operations, and terms they used for rookies were just flowing like the river! I was amazed to see this person who marched me to the library every summer, fixed my hair as a child, and made me awesome meals every day talk about all the action that took place while serving in the military…a movie reel was spinning through my head!

I probably won’t try to grow a poppy, but I’ll make a effort to be at a Memorial Day ceremony, like this one near Atlanta before heading out to a social event or 2. The last time I went the poppies were flowing! I also enjoyed the concert by the 116th Georgia Army National Guard Band which included Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind”, Georgia’s state song and one of my personal favorites, it was very fitting for the occasion.

Ed Laporta was also there, a WWII veteran who served in the North African invasion landing with the 1st Armored Division at Oran, Algeria. He told a very vivid story about how he was captured by Germans in 1943 while on a reconnaissance mission at the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, and how he was a POW until he was liberated by American soldiers in May 1945. Laporta is my height, we took a picture together after the ceremony which can confirm it, but his valor and strength was as tall as a mountain.

Awesome people, the men and women who served and continue to serve for us in the military. Happy (early) Memorial Day!

If you want to learn a little about the Redtails, bka the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American Air Force fighter pilots allowed to fight with White pilots, during World War II check out my post from earlier this week, title: Where Does Your Passion for Evaluation Lie?

Memorial Day history link


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