It is that time of year again. When I pull out the earrings that I purchased in Australia and add the pin acquired in New Zealand on the same trip in 2013. In the UK it is easy to find poppies. It seems that someone is selling them on practically every street corner. When I lived in Camberley, there were displays as well on many store counters. It was a pound, proceeds going to various veterans’ causes.
If this is not ringing a bell with you, I will elaborate. Last year was the 100th Anniversary of the ending of the Great War, the War to end all Wars. The war that later became known as WWI for obvious reasons. For years Armistice Day was celebrated on 11 Nov – 11:11 to be precise in recognition of the wars end (leave it to politicians to want to time the signing of a treaty so that it would be memorable). The poem, “In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian military physician John McCrea, references those poppies which have become the symbol of those fallen in war. In most of the English speaking world – the 11th is recognized as Remembrance Day. In the US, as of 1956, the day was renamed Veteran’s Day with the intent of recognizing more than those killed in wars.
Consider this your heads up, giving you enough time to plan what you are going to do for that day. Not shopping, taking advantage of sales, enjoying the day off work, or simply sleeping in. Rather, that Monday (Nov. 11 falls on a Monday this year), think of those – it may be your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents – who served in and survived WWI. Family members who might have served in WWII or any of the conflicts after that. Some of us have served since then, in various militaries in different parts of the world.
Find and wear a poppy. You have enough time. That poppy serves as a reminder that freedom and choice are not cost free. That we all have a responsibility to vote, to express our opinions, to support those currently serving. And to never forget the past.