I interrupt my exploration of No-Accounts and its origins to talk about Memorial Day, a holiday more important to me than any other in the calendar. As I’ve reported earlier in this blog, I spent many years in Vietnam providing signals intelligence support to U.S. combat units, both army and Marine, during the war. Men fighting by my side died as I watched. I’ll grieve for them as long as I live.

Yesterday I joined other members of the American Legion Post 156 (of which I m a proud member) offering poppies to passersby who contributed to the charities that the Legion supports.

Two observations:

First, I was impressed with the generosity of ordinary people. I always asked contributors if they were veterans. The answer was almost always no, but they said, in various ways, that they recognized that veterans had sacrificed so that citizens could enjoy the freedom and liberty of the American way of life.

How different it was when I and the troops returning from Vietnam were met by crowds who called us “baby killers” and “butchers” and spat on us. U.S. consciousness has changed, especially in the past few years. Veterans, even those of us from Vietnam, are now honored.

Second, I remembered why we use the poppy as a symbol of those of us who have died in war. The practice is inspired by a poem that came from World War I:

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

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.

Written May 3, 1915

One thought on “Poppies”

  1. In Gali Bolu (Galipoli) those the poppies still bloom in the blood red of all that fell there, including COL Doughty and his men.


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