The Remembrance Poppy

The Remembrance Poppy of my childhood was passed out for a donation at intersections in my hometown during the Memorial Day holiday weekend by men who belonged to service organizations. It was a way to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and was used as a fund raiser for local causes as well. The poppies were always artificial and made from a red, sturdy fabric with a green stamen in the center of the petals.

These handcrafted symbols held up nicely if they were displayed on a suit lapel, affixed to a shirt collar, attached to a ball cap, or partially tucked into a pocket as a memorial badge of sorts. As a kid, we liked to enthusiastically wave them in everyone's faces like they were toys to be enjoyed. These symbols often never lasted the entire weekend and if they did, after the holiday had passed, these artificial poppies went the way of most passing things... they were disposed of!

We have been living in the French countryside during these days of vacation. As it would turn out, we had planned our end of May through June trip to visit family in Normandy during the calendar events of Memorial Day and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

This beautiful countryside is busy these days with the commemoration of D-Day when the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of the La Manche province to turn back the German aggressions during WWII. As we all know, their efforts were hugely successful in liberating the French from their oppressors. Like many similar French communities in the area, here in La Haye Pesnel, there is a main street called Liberation Way to remember the efforts of many young Americans and British troops who bravely fought for freedom and marched through these farming hillsides toward Paris.

The other day on one of our excursions, we drove to the seaside provincial town of Granville, nicknamed, "Monaco of the North." This gorgeously sophisticated fifteenth-century, little city of 14,000 residents has been made famously chic by a prominent native son, the fashion designer, Christian Dior (1905-1957). It is a favorite summer location for thousands of vacationers who enjoy entertainment, cafes and restaurants near an expansive beach at the foot of 100 meter cliffs. On the drive in and around the venues, we passed rock walls adorned with red-colored flowers jutting out in celebration of this time of the year.

When I asked what kind of flowers they were, my sister-in-law replied, "Those are poppies!" I questioned, "You mean the kind we have at Memorial Day?" "They are! Except these are real!" she said. We stopped at the roadside and took in the beauty of it all and grabbed our cameras to take several photos of these natural field poppies (Popaver Rhoeas). We also selected a few for a table display back at the house though we felt some guilt in doing so and said, "If everyone did this, we wouldn't be able to enjoy them along the roadway!"

In the Christian faith, we have an ordinance of remembrance with vividly rich symbols that remind us of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died to set us free from the penalty of our sin. During the Lord's Supper, believers take a piece of the bread and drink the cup of juice/wine in commemoration of Christ's sacrificial death. The bread is a reminder of His broken body and the juice symbolizes the shedding of His blood on Calvary's cross.

Churches vary in how often they celebrate Holy Communion. Regardless the schedule, this is a needful exercise in the faith because we can soon forget great sacrifices without regular worship experiences unless we see and hear, "This is my body... This is my blood... Do this in remembrance of me." The Apostle Paul further emphasizes, "As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Let us not forget and let us tell others often about our spiritual freedom!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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