Today is Veterans Day, a time of remembrance and gratitude, for those who served, fought, died, or are still living with the honor and horrors, who still hold to the oath they took. Some of you will encounter members of the VFW, standing in front of shops and public buildings, handing out little plastic poppies. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people refuse to take them, avoiding eye contact, or take them and drop them on the ground after they think they're out of sight. My heart breaks and my blood boils. I have had words with more than one of these people, assuming they're uninformed rather than ungrateful, and tried to explain to them the meaning of the poppies, but more importantly, the honor of the men and women handing them out. I have seen more go back, take a flower, and shake hands, or better yet, hug a Veteran.
I come from a family of military service, Marines, Navy and Army (Poppy was Army, Uncle Tommy was Navy, the Army-Navy game was always interesting). Growing up, we held Veterans Day presentations, school kids singing patriotic songs, reciting poems, presenting the Colors. And today, in the middle of the Panhandle, elementary schools are upholding that tradition. Almost 40 years ago, I memorized a poem for our school's presentation, and yes I can still recite it. I always thought it beautiful (even though it was written by a Canadian, *hugs*).
So here, to honor our Veterans, is that poem, an explanation of why Veterans hand out red poppies.