Every Memorial Day, I look for red poppies; the crepe paper variety, sold by veterans. I usually find mine outside a grocery store. And I wear it all day.
The poppies evoke such a special time in my life that I usually find a visible place to display them long after the holiday. And when I see one around the house, it brings back vivid memories of my father and the Memorial Days we shared while I was a little girl.
My dad was a veteran of World War II and after his discharge was active in the local Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) post. Our local VFW sponsored our town’s Memorial Day parade. I never got to watch the parade; I got to participate in it.
Each year, my father drove a car with a veteran from World War I. It was a tribute for the veterans but also special for me; I got to ride in the back seat. Our small town put on quite a parade and I felt fortunate to be part of it.
After the parade, my father took me and my two siblings back to the VFW post. We’d play softball out back and there was always a cookout. I don’t know why, but my mom stayed home. This was a special opportunity for us three kids to have time with our dad; nowadays we would call it quality time. Years later, it was all the more poignant after his early death.
So every Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day too, I search for the poppies. I love to share my story with the veterans I meet; and it’s important to support all the veterans who give so much for our country, even in this small way.
Those simple poppies make me feel a sense of patriotism along with a connection to my family roots. I get a little red flower to wear for the day while paying tribute to the veteran I knew best, my dad.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
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