10 November 2006

Veteran's Day 2006

We acknowledged Veteran's Day this year in my home by raising a flag, explaining to my children in a few words what the day meant, and having poppy seed rolls. I didn't have the heart to explain the meaning of the poppy seeds -- a symbol much more potent in Europe and the British Commonwealth than it is in the United States.

Poppies recall the hundreds of thousands of men who died in the poppy fields of Europe in World War I. They have been a symbolic icon of the price of war in Europe and the British Commonwealth for almost a century now. Those deaths still haunt Europe. The losses of two World Wars are still conscious memories in every village and town there. Even half a world away in New Zealand, memories of events from those wars, poppies and all, are more a part of the national legend as Iowa Jima, or Tripolii are in the United States. The stories are told, every year, like a national litany adorned with poppies.

Soldiers, British and American alike, now as then, are dying in poppy fields again. This time, those fields are in Afghanistan, the world's leading producer of opium for the black market. Perhaps, it is time for that symbol to acquire relevance in the United States now.

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