Poppies and Sacrifice

 Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have.
  Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have.  

I wanted a VW Bug for years.   One month before my Father died at the age of 93 he bought me one: Brand new, white with a beige interior and a little plastic vase to hold a flower right next to the steering wheel.  

My Father was a World War II veteran.  Every year he would buy red poppies from The Veteran of Foreign Wars and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers who gave them out for contributions for disabled and hospitalized veterans and their families.

I hadn’t seen or thought about  poppies in years until 2 months after Dad died.   Outside the grocery store an elderly man was selling  poppies.  I gave him a donation and received a poppy.  Since then it has shared space in the little plastic vase in the Bug my Dad gave me.

  A brief history of the artificial poppy

   In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild.  The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. The poppy movement was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by  Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces in 1915 before the United States entered World War I

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.
 
By 1918 the poem was well-known throughout the allied world. Moina Michael, an American woman, wrote these lines in reply.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then adopted the custom of wearing a red poppy in memory of the sacrifices of war and also as a symbol of keeping the faith.

The poppy became a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.

Here’s to you Dad!  Thanks for  fighting for us,

all your life.

Verteran’s Day – Secrets of My Father

Blood of our fathers

devastates mind-body-soul

For peace or for war?

My father died 10 years ago. I have held his secret for one decade.  My Father held his secret 6 decades.

Dad was a WW II veteran.  He enlisted in the army even though he was exempt from serving. After he returned from service in the Philippines Mom said he had changed from the spontaneous, communicative man she had married.

The father I knew didn’t talk,  he did things – built rooms, repaired cars, fixed leaks, upholstered furniture. He was incredibly handy, always busy doing, never talking. The father I knew was taciturn and downright anti-social at times.

After my mother died Dad began to talk.  He talked non-stop, mostly about fond memories of his youth and early days of dating and marrying Mom. He talked to me, to strangers, to anyone who had a friendly listening ear.

Only when I was driving, both of us looking straight ahead,  did he talk of regrets or sorrows . . . He needn’t look at me and I couldn’t look at him.

One ride I will never forget, his tone changed. “I never told your Mother . . .”, a tone I had never heard in his voice before . . . “I killed a man in the Philippines.  I still see his eyes.”  Startled,  I turned to see tears running down his cheeks.  “I think about that man having a family . . .”, choking back sobs, he stopped talking.

Flower holder in my VW with poppies

Flower holder in my VW with poppies

Monday was Veterans’ day.  Outside the market The Veterans of Foreign Wars were handing out poppies.  I took one and slipped $5.00 into the donation can – one dollar for every year my father continued to keep his secret kept after Mom died.

A typhoon just ripped its way through the Philippine islands yesterday leaving a trail of visible destruction. There are too many destructive events in this world that rip their way secretively through our psyche and soul.

To read my post about my Dad, my VW & me and an explanation of the significance of the poppy for veterans click here 

“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”.

“In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces 

Secrets of My Father

September 15, 1950

My father was a World War II veteran – he was stationed in the Philipines when I was born.  He enlisted in his 30’s without telling my Mother. My Dad didn’t have to serve – he was exempt.  It was an honor to serve your country, a patriotic duty. I was conceived, I suspect, in delight on a furlough.  I say delight since it would not be appropriate for parents to experience lust . . .

My father came home from the war changed.  Mom couldn’t understand why he was anti-social, withdrawn, uncommunicative, carrying resentments he seemed incapable of letting go.  The man she had been married to for over 10 years was missing.

When Mom died Dad grieved deeply.  And a man I had never met emerged:  Bursting easily into tears;  making friends with supermarket clerks who knew him by name; talking to babies in strollers;  smiling and giving hugs.  It was as if Mom’s death had liberated him.

And he talked non-stop about his more humorous war experiences while I drove him to doctors appointments.  His anger at General McArthur, decades later, still smoldering.  His amusement stealing sirloin steaks from McArthur’s mess-camp still delighting.

After hearing the same war stories over and over I began to tune them out until one day driving to yet another doctor’s appointment he shared what still haunts me.

“I never told your Mother this.  I didn’t want her to know,” he said, struggling to choke back sobs. “I killed a man – he came at me with a bayonet . . .   I  see his eyes . . .  maybe he had a family . . .”

A month later Dad was hospitalized. I sat with him as he lay there in terrified panic convinced the male nurses were there to kill him with guns and weapons only he saw.  He was put in restraints because he became combative, fighting for his life.

When You are 92 years old . . .

Just the kind of inspiration I needed today!

My brother Rick sent this to me.  It’s been sitting unopened in my in-box (along with about 2000 other e-mails!).

I don’t know if Rick remembers that when he was about 5 and I was 10 we both took tap dancing lessons.  He was pretty cute.

I can still do the shuffle hop step, shuffle ball change and hop shuffle, hop shuffle, hop shuffle, jump  (I leave out the jump!)

Rick, here’s to 30 more years of tapping!  (We’d better sign up for lessons with Nana Louise)

P.S.  Rick is a realtor in Denver, Colorado.  

Please contact him to buy or sell your house.  

He will use the money he earns to pay for our tap lessons.

 (This message is Not approved, solicited nor expected by

Rick Yerman (702) 982-8461, Yerman@KW.com)

Thanks Pop, with love always

   Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have.
   Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have.  

I wanted a VW Bug for years.  They are round and compact and tweak memories of my teen years.  One month before my Father died at the age of 93 he bought me a VW Bug: Brand new, white with a beige interior and a little plastic vase to hold a flower right next to the steering wheel.  

My Father was a World War II veteran.  Every year he would buy red poppies from The Veteran of Foreign Wars and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers who gave them out for contributions for disabled and hospitalized veterans and their families.

I hadn’t seen or thought about  poppies in years until 2 months after Dad died.   Outside the grocery store an elderly man was selling  poppies.  I gave him a donation and received a poppy.  Since then it has shared space in the little plastic vase in the Bug my Dad gave me.

   A brief history of the artificial poppy

   In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild.  The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. The poppy movement was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by  Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces in 1915 before the United States entered World War I

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.
 
By 1918 the poem was well known throughout the allied world. Moina Michael, an American woman, wrote these lines in reply.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then adopted the custom of wearing a red poppy in memory of the sacrifices of war and also as a symbol of keeping the faith.

The poppy became a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.

Here’s to you Dad!  Thanks for  fighting for us,

all your life.