In honor of Remembrance Day–Veterans day if you are American–a letter sent to my Great Grandparents almost 63 years ago. Thanks, Mandy for posting this.
When I was a child, Remembrance day was preceded by the sale of flocked plastic poppies. Just a simple straight pin with the head bent at a 90 degree angle. I believe that up until 1996, they were made by veterans. Every year teachers handed out poppies, and everyone, everyone in town was wearing them. Did they cost a dime? I think?
Lots of kids took the pin and the green velvet center out (which, according to Wikipedia has been recently changed to black–I guess the original design) and folded them in half. They made perfect, bright red lips.
We all memorized Flanders Fields. I tried to bribe my kids into memorizing it a few years ago. I guess my bribe wasn't generous enough. They don't get it. Maybe you have to grow into it, line by line and row on row through the years as you stand and recite it with your peers to the measured crackle of the principal's voice over the intercom.
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.
I hear that Canadian school officials started giving the children a sticker version of the poppy last year. Safer, apparently. And we're teaching them about war. Let's not risk a poke by a straight pin. Somehow I don't think the sticker has the tangible, tactile effect of the flocked poppy. But maybe I also pray God they never know more about war than to pull apart the poppies and use them as stiff, flocked lips. Not yet.