Memorial Day. Remember.
Memorial Day 2018. Remembering Those Who Have Served.
"We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies." Moina Michael 1915
In Memory of Vincent DiBenedetto. 1925 - 2018.
U.S. Navy. "Tin Can Sailor."
With thanks to all our Veterans, past and present.
About a week ago, a friend mentioned to me that she hadn’t seen the Veterans selling “Poppies” near her local supermarket yet this year. I said maybe it was because of all the rain—we had had a few rainy days in a row, not the best for sitting outside all day. But we both were quiet for a moment, deep in thought. I know I was thinking, I hope he didn’t die. Most of the World War II Veterans were getting up there in age. She was thinking the same.
The thought stuck with me all day and I was prompted to research the origins of the red crepe paper poppies for sale each year. No matter what, I always bought them, and always felt great about it. I didn’t know, however, that the poppies as symbols of remembrance of Veterans dates back to World War I. “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written at that time by John McCrae introduced the symbol in his depiction of the fierce battles and grave losses in Flanders, Belgium.
The verse above was Moina Michael’s response to McCrae’s poem, and her way of promoting the poppies to bring attention to Veterans’ causes. I believe also, it was Michael’s intent to promote the symbolism of the poppies, and to make sure that the tradition carries forth so that the Veterans who have given their all in service to our country would never be forgotten. I think also that the "blood" is used as a metaphor for lives-- the actual people--blood and bones that fought for our liberties. Indeed, we must never forget them, or the service members that continue to place service above self. We owe a debt of gratitude, and more. We must pay attention to the benefits we provide, medical and otherwise, when they return to civilian life and need our help going forward. We cannot let them get lost in the political shuffle. The VA is an important agency that needs a strong leader capable of not only advocating for them, but making the respect and appreciation for their service real in their lifetime, and in worst cases, the lifetime of their loved ones, who also have sacrificed for our freedoms.
The “Tin Can Sailor” honored above is one of the few Veterans I have known. Through his family, I learned of his pride in his service. He was a proud Veteran that typified all that was truly great about that generation—we can all learn something from them-- through his service and the honor he brought to daily living after he returned from service.
So, going full circle, it is up to us on Memorial Day, and everyday, to make sure that all service members, including the Veterans who have served and are gone, and may no longer have families that are remembering them this day, are not forgotten. May we always remember their sacrifice with respect and gratitude.