Buy a Poppy

Monday is Memorial Day which means that outside every Krogers and Sam’s Club and fill-in-the-name-of-any-high-traffic-store-here is a guy in uniform, usually elderly, with a bunch of cheap flowers and a can, making me feel guilty because I’m not shelling out for them. I’ve seen those poppies all my life; in the little blue-collar town I grew up in, you wore one of those on Memorial Day because the VFW was everywhere, and everybody you knew had either served or knew somebody who had, and I have mixed feelings about that town. Plus the flowers are poppies because of John McCrea’s “In Flanders Fields:”

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.

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