The vivid red of last year’s crêpe paper poppy is long gone though it still hangs from the rearview mirror of my car, a faded daily reminder of lost lives and passing time. Both irreplaceable.
Closed poppies seem a particularly àpropos symbol of the millions of lives that never reached full bloom due to war and the contributions those lives could have made to our world that will never be fully realized.
On Saturday, Poppy Day, I made a donation to The American Legion Auxiliary to contribute to the financial assistance of disabled and hospitalized veterans and received two hand-made poppies to help raise awareness, education and respect for veterans.
Last year, The Poppy Program distributed nearly 3.5 million poppies and raised $2.1 million. The poppy program began in 1922, following WWI, through the efforts of Moina Michael and was inspired by a war poem written by Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915, “In Flanders Fields” (excerpt):
...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
Moina Michael wrote a stirring response to McCrae’s poem (excerpt):
. . . the blood of heroes never dies But lends a luster to the red Of the flower that blooms above the dead In Flanders' Fields.
Today, Memorial Day, I am replacing my old poppy with the new one. Once again I will have a bright reminder not just the lives lost through war, but all the potential love, knowledge, creativity, compassion, and community we lose with each of those lives as well.
Do you buy Memorial Day Poppies?