Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Endless poppies

My job is all about connections. Specifically, making connections between people. A lot of people read the stuff that I produce, but it is actually written by a horde of different people. Each person has such an amazing, unique history. Sometimes I am blessed to get to know their history. This is a story about a shared history.

One of my contributors wrote about a Veterans Day many years ago, long after the name of the national holiday was changed from Armistice Day, which was actually a day that people recognized the end of World War I. A longtime symbol of the armistice is the poppy, which signifies the vast fields of blood-red poppies that bloomed among the most horrific battle sites.

The contributor, an American military veteran, was looking for some artificial poppies on Veterans Day, but was very dissappointed when he found that there were none offered by any of the florists near him. He was disabled, so it was not an option for him to travel across the city to find poppies to memorialize the day. He then lamented what appeared to him as a loss in shared national history, that the greatest known memorial for our heroes of World War I could be forgotten is a very real tragedy.

Several weeks after his missive was published, I received a large padded envelope inside a mailer box with a note asking me to forward the envelope to the contributor. No problem.

Later that week I received a call from the contributor. Another reader had been so moved by the disabled veterans search for a personal memorial to those fellow vets that had died in World War I that the reader, a World War II vet himself, procured some artificial poppies for the contributor and sent them along with a note describing his memories of the armistice. The poppies and the note had meant so much to him, and he said that with future Armistice Days, he'll never forget that so many men died on battlefields to preserve the freedom of others.

This is our shared history.

Let us not forget.


Olivia said...

I like seeing poppies on lapels and wish they were easier to find so that we could have a more visible reminder on the days surrounding the observance.

MattJ said...

I find this really odd, not just renaming the day but the poppy scarcity. In the run up to Rememberence Sunday and Armistice Day you can't move for people selling artificial poppies, they are sold by volunteers and in pretty much every high street shop! As your man there says, it's the single most recognizable symbol of rememberence of all those that gave up their lives.

Give me a shout next year, I'll buy a fee boxes and send them over ;)