Of Poppies, Service, and Dad

Cynthia L. Eppley 11/10/2020


Does anyone sell poppies anymore? I remember them as a child and teenager in my small town. I don’t think the deep implications were clear to me at that point.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate them more.

I found this explanation recently:

“Wear the poppy on the right side; the red represent the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.

The leaf should be positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time that World War 1 formally ended.”

Why the Poppy? 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row That marks 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, John McCrae 1915

American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program: Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our veterans has been an important goal of the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program since its inception in 1921. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies—all handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation—are distributed across the country in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities. https://www.alaforveterans.org/Poppy/

Where are the Poppies?

I haven’t seen a poppy in years. I may not be positioned in the appropriate groups or clubs. But it is telling that as I reflect on Veterans Day I first think of poppies and of Service.

Faith of our Fathers

Both of our fathers fought in WW2. It wasn’t something they talked about readily, but we knew it had impacted them deeply.

We felt it as much in how they carried themselves; how they sung the national anthem with respect. How we went to Memorial Day parades and watched Veterans march by. Memorial Day 2020

How they hung the American flag with great ceremony.

Pass it On

And so we appreciate all our fathers did, and the legacy they passed on to us. We saw it as they  shared the simple beauty of raising the flag on a sunny morning. But the significance in that ritual was in the sharing with a small boy.

Teaching through example was important.

Even Now

I learned so much from my Dad. But respect for my Country was right at the top of the list. 

I know when I see a flag  at night it should be lit up. I know the ceremony of raising and lowering the flag. I can’t hear the plaintive melancholy notes of “Taps” without thinking of my Dad.

I know how a flag should be folded—solemnly and with great reverence.

And so his legacy has been passed on.

My brother continues to lift the flag every morning at their home overlooking the Delaware River that we all loved so well.

It is our prayer that it is passed on to younger generations as well.

Thanks Veterans for your service to our country. Thanks to those who have gone before us.

And thanks, Dad.

Published by Counseling from a Christian View

Counselor, Teacher, Wife, Mother and Grandmother. It is a privilege to serve God. All my roles have taught me more about God's grace and mercy. And all of life is counseling.

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