|Tower of London|
awash in a sea of poppies
|Compeigne, France 1918|
There are many ways citizens have, over the past century or so, chosen to honor and remember those whose sacrifice have won for the rest of us the freedoms which we enjoy.
In South Africa, a toast to fallen comrades is observed by not only two minutes of silence, but two minutes of utter and complete darkness, lit only by the Light of Remembrance.
In the Commonwealth Nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, India, much of the Caribbean and a number of African Nations, the date commemorates veterans of both World Wars, as well as the fallen, both killed and injured servicemen, in subsequent wars. Its symbol is the poppy. But, why the poppy?
A Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, lost a friend in the spring of 1915, and was inspired by the poppies growing in the battle-scarred fields in Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium. He writes:
An American and Memorial WWI cemetery in Belgium
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 dies,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
McCrae's poem inspired an American teacher, Moina Michael, to make and sell silk poppies to raise money for ex-service members. From there, the poppy made its way back across the pond to become the symbol of Royal British Legion. And still you ask why? The poppy is an incredibly resilient flower. It managed to grow, to bloom, to flourish in fields otherwise destroyed by war. It is the symbol of the strength of resilience of humanity to grow from adversity and flourish.
This is the lesson to take away: there will be conflict. But life finds a way. Love finds a way.
So, as you go about your very busy lives, doing those everyday things which take up so much of our time, stop and think on these things. Whether you are satisfied with the election results or not, you have the freedom to cast your vote and make your opinions known. Whatever liberties you enjoy, you do so because of the sacrifice of service of our veterans. Sometimes, they spend their entire lives defending our way of life. Sometimes, they lose theirs in the process. And sometimes, they return with visible, or invisible, scars. Remember, appreciate, and thank a Veteran. And not just on November 11, but every precious moment you breathe in freedom's air.
At 11:11 on 11/11, the sun shines through the ellipses of pillars representing the five armed services to form a perfect solar spotlight illuminating the Great Seal of the United States,