11 November 2009

Wearing my poppy

When I was growing up I believed that Memorial Day honored those who died in War and Veterans Day honored all service personnel. It turns out that I was mistaken.

Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) celebrated Union soldiers and the date (last Monday in May) was chosen to match the day of reunification after the Civil War.

Veterans Day (also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day) originally honored the veterans of the first World War. When I was in England last November, we stopped our singing and such in time for the moment of silence at 11:11 am and afterwards our host, Bob, asked if any of us had parents or grandparents who fought in that war. His father fought for England as the did the fathers and uncles of several of the people in the room.

I had landed at Heathrow a couple of days before and as I was going through the airport with Carol and Claire and Mariel, I saw a box labeled "Poppy Appeal". Ignorant American that I am, I asked what it was and what it meant. I was told that the Poppy Appeal which offers little paper poppies in exchange for donations, supports the Royal British Legion, the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present.

I asked if a pound was enough (oh, any amount is fine, luv), put my pound in the tin, and took a poppy. I put it through the button hole of my sweater and was severely grateful that I had learned this before I had needed any kind of assistance, as I had assumed that the many people wearing poppies were airport personnel of some kind.

I made sure to wear it that Sunday and also made sure to put it where I wouldn't lose it when I got home.

A couple of months later, I was at the James Lee Community Center for an audition or a rehearsal or something and was chatting with a friend who works there. I noticed a box of poppies on the counter and asked about them. It seems that the American Legion also uses poppies to raise money for the support of veterans.

So now I have two poppies and this week I have worn my British poppy on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for Remembrance Day and will wear my American poppy today, tomorrow and Friday for Veterans Day. My Boss saw my English poppy on Monday and today is wearing the one that he got on a recent trip to London. My other boss has not been able to find a poppy anywhere locally, so I have lent him my English one. And the three of us are explaining our poppies to the many people who ask about the paper flowers we are wearing.

Why poppies? Because many of the fallen in World War I were buried in Flanders Field in Belgium where poppies grow like poppies.

To all who served my country or their own, including my father and grandfathers, my thanks. Thank you for your service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"We shall not sleep, though poppies grow/In Flanders fields."