November 11

The still call it "Remembrance Day". (UPDATE - Corrected number of WWI survivors)

When I was younger, I always made a point to get my poppy from an actual veteran of World War I. After a while, that meant going to the armoury or the Legion hall when they would have their open houses, because the vets got too old to stand on the street with their box full of poppies. And then one day there were no more vets of the Great War at the open houses - there were too few of them, too sick, too old, too frail.

For the past few years I have been sure to get my poppy from a World War II veteran - but something tells me that I will soon have to change that standard again, and start to look for one of the survivors of the "forgotten war" in Korea. They all just look so terribly old.

It is believed that there are only four Canadians left who served in WWI. Four people left who saw the gas, and the horror, and the slaughterhouses of mud ... four people for who the words of this week have real meaning. Four people left to remind us all that war isn't embedded reporters and slick briefings and high-tech toys - it's bodies and blood and kids who will never grow up.

Wear your poppy.

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.

Posted: Fri - November 11, 2005 at 12:01 AM