Brooch of the Month - May 2013 - The Poppy

May's brooch of the month is the poppy pin I received from one of my favorite college professors. One of the best classes I took as an undergrad revolved around the literature of WWI. For the class we studied world literature from that time period along with comics, songs, letters, and chocolate! Although I'd say I grew up in a comparatively patriotic home, the semester I spent studying WWI literature still makes a great impact on me and how I view war, patriotism, and the death of soldiers.

The poppy symbolism comes from In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.
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.

Wearing a poppy for Memorial Day isn't much, but it's a small token of my esteem for the men and women who've given their lives for me, my country, and the ideals of justice and freedom. Regardless of my or anyone's views on war, it's still appropriate to honor and remember the fallen.

Photo from my Instagram account - ejstivers

Although in most countries it seems that poppy pins are worn on different days, in America it's most traditional to wear a poppy on Memorial Day (this year Memorial Day fell on May 27). See this excerpt from the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs for more info:

Q. Why are red poppies worn on Veterans Day, and where can I obtain them?A. The wearing of poppies in honor of America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. The practice of wearing of poppies takes its origin from the poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by John McCrae. For information on how to obtain poppies for use on Memorial Day, contact a veterans service organization, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) or The American Legion, as a number of veterans organizations distribute poppies annually on Memorial Day. You can find veterans groups in the Veterans Service Organization link on VA's Veterans Day web page. Veterans groups in your area can be found in your local phone book. Look in the yellow pages under "Veterans and Military Organizations" or a similar heading.


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