My Beautiful Poppies

My Beautiful Poppies

We didn’t “celebrate” Memorial Day in our house while I was growing up. There were no barbecues, no sporting events, no over-the-top parades or the customary Memorial Day fare. We would go to a roping, have our orange Nehis, nachos, and Big League Chew or Bazooka bubble gum, then we would go home. I never asked why we didn’t do what everyone else did.

I am the daughter of a Vietnam vet. Even typing that opens the floodgates- tears, emotions, memories. My daddy is my hero. I have seen his pain and felt his torment and guilt. From learning very young not to wake him suddenly to seeing him crippled with bouts of malaria, from his anger at the boys in third grade making fun of my not having fingers as a result of his Agent Orange exposure to his reverence of The Flag, I have borne witness to the meaning behind Memorial Day through his losses- things he couldn’t change and those he couldn’t bring back, including himself.

I thought of this earlier as I pinned on my beloved poppy pin for today’s Memorial Day ceremony. The only memory I have of my father acknowledging Memorial Day is of a wire and fabric poppy from the Legion gentleman at the door of the land of Walmartians, its petals so flimsy that it hung from a rosary in my Camaro for a year or so before I finally had to take it out or risk its inevitable disintegration.

I started collecting poppies with that first little fabric bud, to the point that there isn’t a room in my house without them. That first poppy was so much stronger than the fraying red nylon of which it was made. It signified that my pop was healing. That was when I started to understand:

We didn’t observe Memorial Day because my daddy COULDN’T remember. So I will remember for him.

Written by

Obsessively grammatically correct and unapologetically politically incorrect Mom, friend, mad scientist, Papist, and bibliophilic conservative hippie with an internet connection.

  • Pat Forsythe says:

    I’m crying reading this…I can’t imagine what your family paid for our being a free country. I thank your father for his sacrifice and that of your family. Vietnam left so many scars. There can never be enough thanks.

  • ROS says:

    Thank you for that, Pat.

  • Dbie says:

    Oh, honey… hugs to you.
    I was born while my Dad was in Vietnam. Thankfully, he was not exposed to Agent Orange, but he was spit on and treated like a damn criminal for DECADES after he got back. He would refuse to be recognized as a veteran until about 15 years ago, when he realized that *I* was proud of his service… and screw everyone else.

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