Every November 11, I think of my dad, a WWII veteran and a man with a supreme joy for life. He always shared his wisdom, ideals and opinions (often without being asked), but kept the horror of his war experience to himself. He passed away over nine years ago, and for me, Remembrance Day is like another Yahrzheit for him. So today, to celebrate his memory and everything he taught me, I’m going to republish part of a post I wrote in 2007:
When I was growing up in Winnipeg we called Remembrance Day: Poppy Day. And every year when it came around, my Dad would return from work with a poppy on his lapel. Often, he’d bring some home for us and I felt it was both a thrill and an honour to wear one. It connected me with my Dad and by extension with history. It made me feel proud.
Back then my dad, a veteran who saw action as part of Montreal’s Blackwatch regiment in WWII, would have bought the poppy from someone more senior than he was (by that I mean someone who’d fought in WWI).
Later, the ‘torch’ was passed to the WWII vets, and now they’re mostly gone too. Today, you never know who’s going to sell you a poppy (and sometimes it’s just the honour system and a contribution you make at Tim Horton’s). Time marches on.
Every year, I continue to wear a poppy over my heart and feel nostalgic. I love the symbol, the visual reminder of Flanders Fields, where ‘poppies blow between the crosses row on row. That mark our place…’