The poppy to me represents freedom. I think of all the men and women, who have fought and sacrificed and continue to do so, for my country. Canada has always symbolized the true, the North, the strong, the free. I think of my Grandpa on Rememberance day and how he enlisted in both the American and the Canadian armies. He was only 17 when he was stationed in Hawaii. Yes, he lied about his age but that’s how desperate he was to see the world. I remember him telling me stories about how he was a boxer there, and was quite good at what he did while he worked on his basic training. Time passed and war came to Europe. By this time my Grandpa was married to my Gram, and my Mom was just a little girl of nine years old. Those 5 years he was away my Gram became an incredible support to my Mom, and to her own siblings. When my Grandpa returned from the war my Mom was a teenager. He didn’t know this young beautiful woman who wanted to put on makeup and go to “picture shows” with her friends. He sacrificed and fought to come home with wounds from shrapnel in his legs. He also suffered with (what I believe was) undiagnosed PTSD and had to find work to support his family. Emotionally and physically, he needed to integrate in their lives after being gone for so long. And over time he did that, and settled on retiring and enjoying his Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. He spent his free time gardening and telling stories of his time in the army, over a jug of wine on a Saturday night. I remember sitting on the floor at his feet wanting to know more and absorb every detail of his life. This is what the poppy represents to me freedom, pride, lives lost, hope, faith, and love for my country. Every year I proudly recite the poem In Flanders Fields that I learned in school. This historic poem was written in May 1912 by John McRae a Canadian soldier in World War 1. On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month I honour and appreciate the ones that have fought and died for my freedom. I’m proud that my Grandpa was one of those soldiers, thank you for the blessings bestowed upon me. I’m very proud to have my freedom and be Canadian.
“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
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.
Written on May 1915.