Monday, May 30, 2005

Red poppies for Memorial Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

It's a little surprising to me that even in these post 9/11 days that have rekindled respect for the military, many Americans under the age of 40 have no idea that Memorial Day is something more than a day off work for making potato salad to take to a cookout.

If you don't know what red poppies have to do with the observance of Memorial Day--and even if you do--I highly recommend you click over and read Joe Carter's brief explanation and a couple of very moving poems at The Evangelical Outpost.

At six o'clock this morning I was awakened by cannon fire and immediately thought of Sam.*

My husband and I had slept with our bedroom window open, and since we're just two blocks from our town's square, we heard the seven shots fired from the old cannon in commemoration of Memorial Day. As I counted the shots I stared at the ceiling above our bed and thought about our boys . . . and Sam.

In my heart our boys, ages 22 and 18, are still children, so it bothers me a lot that one of Number Two Son's best friends (who finished high school last year) will shortly be leaving for Fallujah, Iraq with his National Guard unit.

I can't even guess how many pizzas we fed that kid when he was in high school. Or how many times I drove him home after a soccer game. Or how many nights he slept under our roof. In my mind I'm still calling down the stairs for him and my son to turn the TV off or the music down or to stop laughing so loud and thumping around on the floor because it's past midnight and I want to go to sleep. So even though Sam has grown taller and filled out and even fallen in love, I'm just having trouble seeing him as a soldier.

But that's what he is.

I'm very proud of him, and my prayers will be following him to Iraq.

* Not his real name.

UPDATE: May 26, 2006

As another Memorial Day approaches, this page has been receiving scores of visitors from the search engines. (It's the first result returned on Yahoo for "Memorial Day red poppies".) To all of you who are making your first visit to this blog, I want to offer a very warm welcome.

Just now I read over this year-old post and was surprised to see that I called young "Sam" a National Guardsman. He is in fact a Marine. (One of my nephews is a Guardsman, which probably accounts for my error.) Sam was home for a visit a couple of months ago, and I got to chat with him for a while. He's now back in Iraq, as is another of my nephews, who serves in the Army. I think of those "boys" often, and pray for them.

No comments: