Poppy Day

The local VFW held a Poppy Day today, and while I buy a poppy along with hundreds of other morning commuters, I also always stop to talk to the veterans who are selling them. Around our area, they are always World War II vets, and they are going away too fast, lost to illness, injury, and time. My dad is still among those living, and I think of him and the fact that I may live long enough to hear that the last WWII veteran has passed away someday. Most of the time, my conversation with these men is limited to my saying thank-you for what they have done, and I genuinely think that they appreciate hearing it. This morning, the man I bought my poppy from took a moment to tell me that the day he left home to report for basic, he stepped off the same train platform I was standing on. I choked up a bit. I am not sufficiently eloquent to do justice to them, but this poem is pretty good:

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.

-John McCrae