I picked up my poppy this year on November 9 from an attractive, middle-aged lady who was standing outside my local Valu-Mart. It was closer to Remembrance Day than usual but, like I do every year, I had waited to see if I could get my poppy from a war vet. They’ve always been easy to spot with their medals and all and, when they have been willing to talk, I like to ask them about their war experiences. But this year, every place I went the only people offering poppies for Remembrance Day were younger members of Legion who clearly didn’t qualify as vets.
I mentioned this to the lady and she smiled pleasantly at me. Then she said, “My grandfather fought in World War II and my great-grandfather was at Vimy Ridge. Perhaps that is enough to let me qualify for you this year?”
I should have picked another bill out my wallet and given it to her, but I didn’t. I’m sure she knew from the expression on my face that what she had said was much more than enough. Vimy Ridge! The Canadian soldiers took heavy losses attacking that fortification. The ridge was so important in World War I that the final German offensive which came later might have succeeded had the Allies not held it.
I don’t know what you’ll be doing at 11:00 AM this morning, but I’ll be in my eye doctor’s office. Whether there is an official two minutes of silence there or not, I know what I’ll be thinking about. It’s the same for me every Remembrance Day: the words to In Flanders Fields.