This morning I bought a poppy — an artificial one, to be sure, but the sentiment was there nevertheless — from a vet wearing a VFW cap standing at the corner of Broad and Third. The red poppies remind us that Memorial Day isn’t just about a three-day weekend and cookouts, it’s about a lot more.
This weekend, take a moment to remember, then thank a vet.
It’s an idea that is cool yet devastating — plant one handcrafted, red, ceramic poppy for each live lost by a British or Colonial soldier during World War I, the War to End All Wars that gave rise to America’s Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. It’s simple, and yet as the poppies flood out of the Tower of London and cover the green grass of its moat it gives you a shock at the enormity of the losses that were sustained, without even counting the soldiers who returned from the terrible conflict shell-shocked, with lungs burned by poison gas, or missing arms and legs.
The piece is called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, and it shows how powerful public art can be. It also reminds us of the sacrifices that our veterans have made, and the ultimate sacrifice of those who served willingly and did not return home.
On this Veterans’ Day, thanks to all of our veterans!