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A Veterans Day Message from our CEO

Poppies Field in Flanders

All,

Rick and I would like to take a moment to honor all of our veterans, past, and present and thank them for their service and great sacrifice. We are very proud of our own Strategic Veterans and would like to say a very hearty, “Thank You” to them.

When Rick and I were kids in the 1950’s, our fathers were veterans of World War II, and our grandfathers were veterans of World War I. This was true of almost all of our friend’s fathers and grandfathers. Both wars were draft wars.

I remember the women from the American Legion Auxiliary selling poppies. They each carried a basket full of handmade red paper poppies and stood on the street corners downtown the week before Armistice Day. Most people back then still used the older name, “Armistice Day” from WWI. The day was later renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include all veterans. Poppies were sold before both Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November.

Disabled veterans handmade the poppies and the proceeds went to back to help the disabled veterans. Even as a small child I knew it was an honor to wear my poppy on my coat lapel. The veterans made the poppies from stiff, bright red paper with one green leaf. The poppy was pinned on with the green leaf at the 11 o’clock position to represent the time WWI ended. The eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour. That is why Veterans Day is November 11th.

Memorizing poetry was part of language arts (it was called “English” then) in grade school. Every kid could recite the poem from WWI:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

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.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lt. Col. John McCrae

Poppies thrive in unsettled soil, and the fields of France were constantly torn up during WWI. Poppies were abundant in all of the battlefields, swaying in the blowing breezes. Lt. Col. John McCray was a Canadian Medic who had just lost a close friend. In his grief, he penned this poem sitting on the back of a truck in about fifteen minutes.

Back in the US, Moina Michael, a Georgia teacher, was so taken with the poem that she penned:

We Shall Keep the Faith

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet — to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

In 1920 she mounted a campaign to make the poppy the symbol of the American Legion. The red symbolized the blood that was shed for freedom. The poppy was adopted, and we wear them still today.

We honor of all of our veterans who carried the torch and held it high.

All my best,

Magan

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