Saturday, May 22, 2010

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.

Just a reminder that, while it may well be my most disliked "holiday", the poppies the VFW vets sell do go to help those who, unlike the dead, have not yet seen an end to war.

And that my little girl is the cutest thing ever. Wears her poppy well, don't you think?

(Crossposted from GFT)


  1. Awww! She looks just as silly as my little girl does!

  2. Chief,
    The VFW should make more profit this year since the poppies are freely acquired in AFGH.

  3. Actually, there is a poppy shortage.
    Afghanistan's poppy crop is being severely affected by a fungus this year.

    Farmers blame NATO for the fungus. NATO denies.

    The US and UK about a decade ago were experimenting with poppy fungi to suppress yields in the war on drugs.

  4. WITH rue my heart is laden
    For golden friends I had,
    For many a rose-lipt maiden
    And many a lightfoot lad.

    By brooks too broad for leaping
    The lightfoot boys are laid;
    The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
    In fields where roses fade.

  5. When I gave it to her she said: "Pretty! Why you get this flower?"

    Me: "Because it is a way to remember all our friends who died in wars far away."

    Little Miss: "Why they die?"

    Me: " seemed like a good reason at the time."

  6. kids...they cut through the rationalizations of us adults, and carve straight to the matter of the heart...why?
    Such a simple question, and yet it has silenced the wisest of men.

    Why indeed, lil poppy, why indeed...if only I could give an answer with as much clarity as you.

    I hope your daughter never fails to ask why Chief...we need more like her.

  7. I remember my mother purchasing the poppies from older ladies sitting at tables outside of the post office, winding them through my shirt buttonhole and explaining to me in sad but patriotic terms the sacrifice of our soldiers.

    I also remember at that post office a very old worker whose face I found it hard to look at. She explained that he had been a victim of mustard gas. Pretty poppies, mustard gas, defacement -- it all coalesced in a child's mind into an incomprehensible melange of beauty and death.

  8. Chief - thanks for the post. My two-year-old grandbaby is wearing one also. But I tell her nothing of remembrance only that it is to help people. Our VFW post uses the poppy donations to help out elderly vets or their widows locally. A percentage also goes to the VFW National Home for Orphans in Eaton Rapids.

    Lisa - your story makes me remember my grandmother Opal. She had a husband and two of her brothers in the AEF in France in WW-1 and another brother and several cousins in the Canadian Army. Her baby brother Clarence got a taste of the Mustard Gas. I do not remember his face being scarred but he always talked in a hoarse whisper because of the scarring in his throat and nasal passages. She also had three sons-in-law that served in WW-2. She would be out pushing poppies every May and every November before Armistice Day. She also always used to cook at all the potlucks and fundraising dinners for destitute veterans and their families. Grandma Opal is the one I remember on Memorial Day and on November 11th, not the Dead of John McCrae's poetry.


  9. Yep, that is one cutie. The Chief and the big brother had better watch out a few years from now. This, from someone who once had a cutie and still does, but a cutie who's also turned out smarter than the old man. Fatherhood is way cool.

    I have noted a distressing tendency in our modern society to conflate our military holidays. I suspect many have seen where Memorial Day is somehow viewed as an occasion to honor veterans. It happened here in my little community. They're having a cookout deal on Memorial Day and they asked via email for veterans to identify themselves so they can be recognized. When the lady who's organizing this thing asked me why I hadn't provided input, I felt compelled to tell her that she could feel free to honor me—and perhaps even buy me a few drinks—in November, but that this time around, I thought she'd do better by focusing on dead folks, and only particular dead folks at that, on Memorial Day. Told her I wouldn't be at the party, but that I'd be thinking of some dead folks I know.

    Yeah, some think I'm an asshole around here. But I did notice that, almost without exception the Vietnam guys around here didn't sign up either. Korean War vintage guys—none combat veterans that I know of—signed up, as did a few old WW2 guys. Most who signed up were peacetime vets.

    Let's keep this day for the dead.

  10. May their memory be eternal!

    In the town where I grew up, there was no doubt that Memorial Day was, in fact, a memorial for those who died in uniform. We had two parades each year. One on Memorial Day, and one on the 4th of July. No one missed the Memorial Day parade, and there was always a military contingent (platoon sized - small town) from the Guard or Reserve at the head of the parade, in Class A uniform. The parade was dignified, included every serious organization in the town, and ended at the town's War Memorial, where a very dignified service was held. Some 8,000 folks or so. But it wasn't about a parade, but those who we gathered to honor, and that was clearly the tone of things.

    4th of July was the parade for silliness and partying. Or not being there, but at the lake instead.

    How sad that so many now seem to be afraid to honor the dead. We have not lost that here in Greece, and it brings back warm memories of days gone by when we have the memorial service for our war dead in our villages each year. No parades, but a very moving gathering at the monuments in our villages.

    So, for those of you back in the States, the 30 families of our little village are "covering your six." Perhaps not on the same date, but with the same respectful intent.

    Memory Eternal!

  11. To all,
    We should open up the VA long term care wards and FORCE everybody to walk thru and look at the broken people, exactly like we did with the Germans and the concentration/death camps.
    I feel no warm fuzzies on any of these supposed holidays.