Athens, GA (Nov 16, 2008) - I first noticed them on BBC coverage of the United States presidential election. On the blazers of the on-air talent was a single red poppy, and I did not know why. Call it being an American without the proverbial clue. Last Friday night at the Predators - Ducks game in Anaheim, I was able to ask one of the Canadian-born broadcasters why they wore it. The answer shocked me in that it shows how much we as America ignore or forget about our veterans.
The poppy is worn by members of the British Commonwealth for the entire month of November in honour of those who served and died in World War I. It is said that it goes back to 1921 or so, and has its origins from the poem In Flanders Fields:
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
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 lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Veterans Day passes year after year without much thought or remembrance. Unless you work for a government agency, you were probably at work and your kids at school. While Fox Sports broadcasters are wearing the pins of charities that are difficult and/or confusing to see on the air, Canadian broadcasters are wearing a very visible sign that they will not forget. There is no confusion to many what these poppies mean, and now I know.
So on behalf of my grandfather who served in France during World War I, and my father who served in World War II and Korea, I can only say thank you for remembering.