Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's "Remembrance" Day

I wrote this post last year....I deem it worthy for a "re-print."
Hopefully you will too!

When I was a little girl......I remember people used to wear red/orangish "paper Poppies" sometimes. You could buy them usually from these men that would approach you when you were coming out of stores you might have been shopping in.

Sometimes they had jackets on but they always wore odd "hats" like "Coney Island Hot Dog Vendors" but they weren't white like the Hot Dog guys, and had pins and metals attached to them usually.

People would give these men or sometimes women, their "small change"...like a dime or a quarter and they would give you a paper "Poppy" type flower and you could put it on and wear it or shove it in your purse or give to a little kid like me.
Men would have them in their buttonholes of their suits and shirts.

I had no clue what that was all about at the time, even though someone that was an adult might have explained it to me. I didn't realize the magnitude of what it represented.

I remember seeing the paper Poppies in my Grandpa and Grandma Hirner's house too. Like just laying around where odd things seem to clutter.

I haven't seen those people selling those poppies in years actually but I have thought about it alot.

When I went to Ireland and England.... I saw the Poppies again and I saw them everywhere. Entire WREATHS of them. Schools had memorials in their gyms with them too. I had never seen that before. But I fast learned that these Poppies were usually associate with "War Tribute" sites........and if you've ever been to Europe you will notice that ......they have them EVERYWHERE. They leave them up.

I don't think America gets into the "Poppies" anymore like Europe does and I don't know why.

Today is Veteran's Day all over the world, 11, November.
People used to call it Armistice Day.
America celebrates it today November 12th as a "Bank Holiday or National Holiday."

The Poppies have an interesting story. I will try to put some of it on here so you too can learn about them.


I found this information and I will share it with you. I didn't write it and it is a combination of several various resources.

Where do the poppies come in?

Noticed as early as the Napoleonic Wars, red poppies grew on the graves of dead soldiers in the fields of northern Europe. Evidently, poppy seeds will lie underground for years and bloom if they are plowed up. In the spring of 1915, red poppies flourished in the fields of the Ypres salient covering the newly dug graves.

I came across a famous poem called "In Flanders Fields" I believe that this poem helped to inspire the "Poppy movement" that took place as a result of World War I.

America didn't play as large a part in the "Great War" as did England, France or many of the other nations around the world but we DID help fight this war.

Here are some rough figures I have found...there are alot of variances in numbers of amounts the dead so these are some of the most accurate figures I could find.

How many people were killed in WWI?

Germany Military 3,250,000 Civilian 5,600,000

Italy Military 226,900 Civilian 60,000

Japan Military 1,740,000 Civilian 393,400

France Military 122,000 Civilian 470,000

Britain Military 305,800 Civilian 60,600

United States Military 405,400 Civilian -

Russia Military 11,000,000 Civilian 6,700,000

China Military 1,400,000 Civilian 8,000,000

As you can see.....WWI encompassed the entire WORLD...and then soon after....WW2 began and America played a HUGE part in that war as most of us know.

Now let me give you a strong visual of how the Poppies began.
Here is the poem I referred to earlier.....

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

Where are Flanders Fields?

Some of the bloodiest battles of World War I took place in the areas of northern France and southwest Belgium known as Flanders and Picardy.

The British front line was determined to keep the Germans from traversing Flanders and the Ypres river valley to reach the port of Calais. Troops from both sides were holed up in the Ypres salient, an outward projection of the battle line. Defending British troops were vulnerable on three sides; therefore this was a bloody and dangerous place for a soldier to be.

The destruction from the battles in this area reached beyond the battlefield to the towns and roads of the area, and led to the demolition of buildings, roads, and all plant life, leaving only mud.

During 1914-1918 the Allied Forces of Belgium, France, Britain and America (from April 1918) made a stand against the advance of the Imperial German Army into Belgium and France.

The German Army called it their western battle front, 'die Westfront'.

The French Army named it 'le Front Occidental'.

To the British Army it became known as 'The Western Front'.

The battlefields of the Western Front are located along a line which runs for approximately 450 miles from the Belgian coast, through northern France and the provinces of Lorraine and Alsace to the Swiss border.

This is both sad and intriguing to me because my Great Grandmother came from the province of Lorraine. Her family immigrated to America sometime during that great mess that was happening in Europe.
During that time as well.....her future "husbands" family was sending some of their children from Germany to America for the same reasons.
My Great Grandparents met years later in Missouri and married.

Back to the Poem now.....

Where does the poem come in?
The scenes of the spring battles in the Ypres salient moved John McCrae, a Canadian doctor, to write "In Flanders Fields." He wrote the poem as he sat in the dressing area (where wounds were dressed) looking out at a field of graves. The poem was later published in Punch Magazine.

McCrae died of pneumonia in 1918, a common killer of Great War soldiers.

Inspired by McCrae's poem, American Moina Michael wore poppies to honor the war dead.

She also began to sell poppies to raise money for disabled veterans.

After meeting Moina Michael in 1920, Frenchwoman Madame E. Guerin started selling handmade poppies to raise money for poor children who were living in the aftermath of the Great War.

Soon thereafter Field-Marshall Earl Haig, the former British Commander-in-Chief, encouraged the selling of paper poppies to raise funds for veterans. This tradition spread to Canada and then to the United States.

I can understand now "why" my Grandparents had those "poppy's" laying around their house and would buy them from those Vet's standing in front of stores now.
I couldn't understand that at 5 years old.

I still DO wonder why we don't see those Poppies as much here in America.

My husband has always told me that "W.W. I" was the most horrible war for "trench warfare."

I can't imagine how it must have been but I've seen some photos.
I PRAY that we never forget what our men and women have given to secure our freedom in America.

My children have no ideal I'm afraid as do most kids their ages.

We MUST continue to tell the stories of "History" so that we as a NATION do not forget these horrible things that happened in the world.

Here is a very interesting "Blog site" I found today off of the BBC News regarding the experiences of a "W.W. I Experiences of and English Soldier" entirely based upon his letters he had written home to his loved ones.

I read most of it today and it was a pretty fantastic account of what he went through and lived.

We must keep learning about past mistakes and remember those that paid the price for us to live free. We MUST Never forget.

I thank them one and all for such a priceless gift.


Teresa of Southern Touch Catering said...

Thank you so much for that beautiful tribute. Mine was more of the anger type for those that forget. It was a pleasure to read this and it gave me cause to weep. God Bless our past heros and those who are still fighting in this world for our freedoms and may we never forget.

Julie said...

Hi, Joyce,

Thanks for writing such a wonderful post, and explaining all about poppies and the "In Flanders Fields" poem. I believe I published the poem in my Memorial Day post this year (or was it last year?). I remember the poppies being handed out only on Memorial Day, not Veterans' Day. I loved the old crepe paper poppies and don't like the new paper ones so much (except for what they stand for).

I pretty much re-wrote a previous post today too, because I also think it is worth repeating.

Denise said...

I had forgot all about the paper poppies........ What a memory that came flooding in.....

Beautiful post and such a tribute to the hero's of the past........

I wish that I had kept one of those paper poppies....... I think we have seen the era of the Spirit of America slipping away...........

The Urban Chic said...

Joyce, I love that story and when we were cleaning moms house, we found all her old poppies and couldn't bear to throw them out. They still sell them here and sometimes just give them out. We visited my uncle's grave because he was killed in WWII on the Reine River. I know this is late, but I thank God every day for our soldiers, even though I hate wars. Luv Ya, Pat