Poppies – 2022 Edition

Yes, poppies were the evil flowers that put Dorothy and her friends to sleep in the Wizard of Oz. They also contain the killer seeds of the opium crisis. But the bright, blood-red poppy blossom represents something more as well: the memory of lives lost in battle. And maybe–just maybe–a bit of hope for those left behind.

Many consider Memorial Day a special day to honor all of our veterans, but purely technically it’s not (that’s Veteran’s Day, which has often somehow become a day for bargain hunters to score awesome deals on clothes, appliances, cars, and mattresses). And Memorial Day weekend may be timed with the kickoff to summer, but more importantly it is a time to remember those who died, either in battle or on the homefront, to protect their own and future generations.

The poppy became a symbol of remembrance for soldiers during World War I (a/k/a “The Great War” because no one at the time thought there’d ever be another so terrible). The bright flowers bloomed from the battlefields of the Western Front, a frequent sight—and later a distinctive memory—for soldiers enduring the horrors of war. In the day the poppies also inspired the poem  “In Flanders Fields” by Lt.Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Today there is a USAA Poppy Wall of Honor at the National Mall in Washington with more than 645,000 flowers, each honoring a fallen servicemember since Word War I. But here is the one from my car:

As a kid I never knew, until I was much older, why my Navy-vet dad (born 1918) kept a bright red, paper poppy wired to the visor of his car. He never mentioned it, but quietly replaced it with a new one every year. Well into his nineties, he continued to buy them while chatting with fellow veterans from the American Legion seated at folding tables outside the Publix grocery store. When he passed away, I found loads of paper poppies in his desk, which now belongs to me. But every year I buy still more, and in each of our families’ vehicles, there is always a bright red poppy representing.

So far, just like the previous 2 years, 2022 has been tough for many of us, and nearly unbearable for others. Somehow, we all need to hold on to some kind of hope while also not forgetting the pain. For me personally, it’s time to select this year’s fresh new poppy from my desk drawer–and place the older, faded one from my car visor in the ever-growing bouquet with the others. Here is a parting photo featuring 2 representatives from American Legion Post 50 in Antrim, NH. The post’s first namesake was town resident William Myers, who died in France on July 18, 1918. Thanks, vets–for everything!

Readers, do you have a special way to remember those we’ve lost on Memorial Day?

19 thoughts on “Poppies – 2022 Edition

  1. Lisa,

    Thank you. That was so well written. My husband and I are US Army veterans. While we are so grateful that people remember the ‘growing ever smaller’ number of military veterans, we struggle with frustration for the folks who don’t know the historical difference between the US Memorial Day & Veterans Day.

    Like you and your Dad, I’m proud to be the child of a retired military man. Two of my siblings were also military.

    David & I are driving to a sort-of nearby veterans cemetery to pay our respects today.

    We are all so blessed, wherever we live, to have those men & women who gave everything for all of us.


    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Ruth, and thanks to you, your husband, and family members for your service. I should have mentioned that my mom was in the Navy also–one of the first classes of WAVES. I think she was more proud of that than anything else in her life. My hubby and I are also doing a cemetery tour today–we have 5 small cemeteries in our tiny town, and they are all freshly-mowed and decked out with fresh flags. There will be a ceremony at each, with band accompaniment, and a memorial at the gazebo on the town green.


      1. Lisa, not only my father served in WWII, but my mother was an Army nurse. She was stationed in the UK during the war. She always said it was one of the best things she’d ever done.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I first learned about wearing paper poppies the year I lived in England when I was sixteen, and all the old men all sported them on their jackets on Remembrance Day in November. (A paper poppy plays a part as an important clue in one of my favorite English mystery novels–not saying which one, as I don’t want to give any spoilers).

    We won’t be doing a barbecue or anything special today, but I am remembering those who paid the ultimate price for their fellow countrymen.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Love that the paper poppy plays an important role in the mystery, Leslie–what a great image of the older English gentlemen on Remembrance Day, too!


  3. Lisa, thanks for reminding us what Memorial Day commemorates. I think it’s so lovely that you still keep a red paper poppy in your car! Your dad would be proud.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. One of the things I love about the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is the importance it places on celebrating the reason for the holiday. There’s a parade some 50 vehicles long driving active military personnel around the track. A bugler plays Taps. There’s a 21 gun salute.
    As I get older, I appreciate those moments more and more.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Very nicely written.

    I don’t have anything I do specifically to remember, but I do always think about a couple of friends who have given their lives on this day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Mark! I am extremely sorry for the loss of your friends–and we are all very grateful for their sacrifices as well.


  6. What a touching post. One of my dad’s lifelong regrets was that he was rejected from serving in WWII. The doc at Merchant Marines told him, “I’m doing you a favor.” My dad never thought so.

    To all who served and serve. Thank you. We can never be too grateful.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I always make it a point to listen to Taps on Memorial Day. And because my boys were both in the Navy, I’ve added in the Navy Hymn.

    Taps … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WChTqYlDjtI

    the Navy Hymn … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic8zMkYwnq8

    And the words
    Eternal Father, Strong to Save
    (The Navy Hymn)

    Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep,
    O hear us when we cry to thee
    For those in peril on the sea!

    O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
    And hushed their raging at thy word,
    Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
    And calm amidst its rage didst sleep,
    O hear us when we cry to thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
    Upon the chaos dark and rude,
    And bid its angry tumult cease,
    And give, for wild confusion, peace,
    O hear us when we cry to thee
    For those in peril on the sea!

    Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
    To all Marines, both night and day,
    The courage, honor, strength, and skill
    Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
    Be thou the shield forevermore
    From every peril to the Corps.

    Lord, guard and guide the ones who fly
    Through the great spaces in the sky.
    Be with them always in the air,
    In darkening storms or sunlight fair.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wife, daughter, and granddaughter of military vets here. My husband served 22 years, including the Gulf War and the second Iraq War. My dad did over 20 years in the Army Reserve. Both grandfathers were WWII vets and my maternal grandmother was a Navy nurse. My paternal grandmother did not serve, but she was a Rosie the Riveter for Bell Airplane, making P39s.

    My paternal grandfather always had poppies, too.

    When my son was in Boy Scouts, he and his dad decorated the graves of veterans at the local cemeteries, then they marched in the local parade. The Boy is older now, but The Hubby still goes to decorate the gravesites.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We put flags all over the borders of our lawns and a mailbox cover with a flag and eagle. We also post on our FB page. Thank God for our veterans and those that served and are gone now.

    Liked by 1 person

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