I wear my poppy over my heart everyday of the year, not just on Rememberance Day. I also visit my brother everyday. I have a very special reason to do so.
“hello brother” My knees crack as I kneel before his grave, taking off my hat. “I’ve been coming to see you for 45 years, brother. And everyday I tell you the same thing. For 45 years… I’m afaid I’m growing old, brother.” I grab my cane and lift myself up with difficulty. “Thank you for what you’ve done.” Looking behind me at all the white rows of crosses. “As I thank all of you.” Standing straight up, I salute my brother, put on my hat, and take my leave.
“Hey mister!” A child tugs at my brown jacket.
“Well, hello sweetie” I turn and smile
“I’m so sorry, sir!” Her mother runs up to me and takes her child by the hand.
“No, no. Don’t be. I’m an old man, I enjoy the company” I smile
“Hey mister, why do you wear that everyday?” She points to the poppy over my heart. “Don’t you just wear it for Rememberance Day? And why do you go there everyday?” She points to the graveyard. “I see you everyday on my way to school”
“Well, if your mom says its okay, I can tell you a little story about that.” I look to her mom for that approving nod. I recieve it with a smile. Taking a seat on the bench, I rest my cane against the garabage can. “Tell me, do you know about Rememberance Day?”
“I sure do! We’re having a service tomorrow at school!”
“Well, my brother, all those many, many years ago, he’s one of the soldiers that fought for us. That’s why I wear my poppy, to honor him. To thank him each day for his serive to this country and our people. That graveyard over there.” I point to his grave. “Is where my brother is burried. I go and visit him everyday so I can thank him and tell him I miss him.”
“That’s so sad!” She gives me a hug.
“Indeed it is, thank you. But shall I wear this poppy with pride, no one ever really died”
She looks at me confused.
“See, when I wear this poppy, their spirit lives on. I remember what they’ve done for us, and their memory lives on.”
“Oh! So they’re still here in our memories!”
“Exactly, their death in battle was not a loss, but a victory for our tomorrow”
“Wow! Mommy, mommy! Didja’ hear!”
She smiles and laughs. “yes, I was listening. That’s a remarkable story, sir. Thank you for sharing it with us”
“Come on mommy!” She jumps off the bench. “We gotta tell Daddy! Hey Mister, where can I get a flower like that?”
I pause a moment, debating if this is really what I want to do. “Here, take this one” I pin it on her shirt. “Take care of it for me, I’ve been wearing it each day for 45 years.”
I haven’t seen a smile quite as pure and bright since the day my brother told me he had the honor of serving our country. I sit there for a few moments after they leave. Feeling a little bit empty without my poppy, but a new joy in my heart.
The weekend after Rememberance Day I saw that little girl’s mother again.
“Excuse me, sir?” She calls
“Oh hello, Miss! How are you and your daughter?”
“Great, thanks! I wanted to tell you something.”
I sit on the bench and rest my cane. “I’m all ears”
“My daughter spoke at the Rememberance Day service at her school. She spoke of you, and your brother”
This was a surprise. “Really? What did she say?”
“I think it’d be better if you heard it for yourself.” She hands me a video tape. “I made a copy for you. Please, watch it.” She stands and takes her leave, looking back and smiling. “It was nice seeing you again”
Once back at home, I sit in my chair and put down my cane.
“I met an old man the other day. His brother died in battle. He’s one of the people we remember today. He goes and sees his brother everyday at the graveyard. He doesn’t wear a poppy just today, but every single day. For 45 years. I think we should take an example from him. That Rememberance Day shouldn’t come just once a year, but everyday. Even though they died in battle, their death was a victory for our tomorrow” She touches the poppy placed over her heart. “This poppy, that man gave me. Its the same one he wore for 45 years. I’m gonna wear it just as long as he did! I’m gonna remember his brother and all the others, just like he does.”
God, I couldn’t even put into words how blessed my heart felt at that moment. Giving away my prized possession to a child I didn’t even know, was the best thing I’ve ever done.
30 years later———
“Hey lady! What’s with that flower you’re wearing all the time?” A child runs up and asks.
“I’m so sorry, miss.” The childs mother calls out.
“Don’t be at all. I’d love to tell you about it, if you don’t mind”
The three of us sat on that bench, yes, that exact same bench from 30 years ago. I knew the moment that child ran up to me, I’d be passing down his poppy to this child, just as he did for me.
“It all began when I was your age.. in this exact spot!” Tell me, do you know about Rememberance Day?"
I usually write poems for Rememberance Day, but this time I decided to write a short story. I’ve always been big for Rememberane Day, I always take it serious. So when I was thinking, remembering in that moment of silence what its about, I came up with this short story.