Where Poppies Grow

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In Flanders Fields

“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.”
Lieutenant-Colonel John M. McCrae

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11, with ceremonies held at various locations at 11:11am. It is a day when Americans pay tribute to our veterans, the fallen, and their families.

John McCrae’s war poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in a battle-scarred field during World War I. The red poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice and remembrance of those who lost their lives to the ravages of war since 1919, when Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) was first established, the day World War I formally ended the previous year. The poem is associated with both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is important to me, because my father was a decorated veteran of World War II and my brother is a Vietnam War veteran. As a ball turret gunner with the Mighty Eighth, my father was put in harm’s way many times, flying more than 50 successful missions and having his plane shot down over France, forcing him to deploy his parachute. These are facts that my father never shared with our family – my siblings and I only learned about his experiences when going through boxes filled with memorabilia after he passed away. We discovered his medals, black and white photo, and his Royal Air Force (RAF) book in which he wrote about his missions in detail. Veteran’s Day became even more significant to me after I learned of his trials and tribulations during the war.

In Greater Flint and Genesee County, the day will be marked by ceremonies, parades and special events. The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly will host its 14th annual Veterans Day Ceremony, with thousands of visitors expected to attend from all around the state. To recognize and honor their service, many local restaurants offer free meals on Veterans Day to active military personnel and veterans.

Who will you honor this Veterans Day? We should all take a moment out of our busy day to reflect, remember and thank all of the honorable men and women who put their lives on the line to serve our country, so that we can live in freedom. In the words of (former U.S. Representative) Doc Hastings: “We owe our World War II veterans – and all our veterans – a debt we can never fully repay.”

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