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“Why Wear a Poppy?” – By Don Crawford

November 4, 2014

“Please wear a Poppy,” the lady said,
And held one forth, but I shook my head,
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade. 

A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on carefree feet,
His smile was full of joy and fun:
“Lady,” said he, “May I have one?”
When she pinned it on he turned to say,
“Why do we wear a poppy today?”
 
The lady smiled in her wistful way,
And answered, “This is Remembrance Day,
And the poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant ones who died in war,
And because they did, you and I are free,
That’s why we wear the poppy, you see.
 
I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird he would race about.
As the years went by he learned and grew,
And became a man – as you will, too.
 
But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the dreadful plight,
(I can see it still in my dreams at night)
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
and the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.
 
Till at last, at last, the war was won –
And that’s why we wear a poppy, son.”
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said, “Thanks lady, I’m glad to know,
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son – did he come back all right?”
 
A tear rolled down each faded cheek:
She shook her head but didn’t speak.
I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me you’d have done the same:
For our thanks, in giving, is oft delayed
Though our freedom was bought
And thousands paid.
 
And so when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne,
By those who gave their very all,
When asked to answer their country’s call.
That we at home in peace might live.
 
Then wear a poppy,
Remember
And give.

“Why Wear A Poppy?” by Don Crawford (alt.)

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Don Crawford turned this poem, handwritten in pencil and on two sheets of foolscap, in to The Perth Courier one morning in the early 1960’s, in which it was printed a few days later. Since then, “Why Wear a Poppy?” has appeared in a multitude of weekly newspapers and magazines, including Legion Magazine in Canada, and foreign publications like Australia’s Anzac Appeal and Scotland’s Claymore magazine. Dominion Command of The Royal Canadian Legion has produced the poem on slides and tape for television and radio. And schools have used “Why Wear a Poppy?” extensively for their Remembrance Day programmes. Donald J. Crawford died in hospital at Perth, Ontario, on October 7, 2000.

You can pick up a poppy to wear on a Remembrance Day display table that is set up in the Hall

[Thank you, Paul Bourgeois, for emailing me the poem “Why Wear a Poppy?” and information about Don Crawford; and thank you, Kerry Peters, for setting up the Remembrance Day table.]

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Seven Remembrance Day reflections can be accessed by clicking on the links below:

– “‘In Flanders Fields’ – By John McCrae” (November 4, 2014);
“Paying the Price for Peace – Part 1: A Life Lesson from the Heroes of Dieppe” (November 17, 2012);
“Paying the Price for Peace – Part 2: The Sacred Trust of Holding High the Torch of Love” (November 17, 2012); 
“‘Here Dead We Lie’ – By A. E. Houseman” (November 14, 2011);
“‘One Night in Auschwitz’ – By Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks” (November 15, 2011);
“The Sacred Trust of Making Peace” (November 15, 2011); and
“Prayer for Peace in the World” (November 15, 2011).

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On November 9, at our 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Services, and on November 11, at “An Evening of Remembrance” from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., in the Great Room at Sundance-on-the-Green next door, at St. Paul’s we’ll honour the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives for our freedom.

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