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A TRIBUTE TO ALL VETERANS

" THE OLD POPPY SELLER "

An old man stands on the edge of the sidewalk in a uniform,
one size too small, five decades old, smelling of mothballs.
The last one, of his ship, regiment, or squadron.
Each crease, every button gleaming,
The collar perfectly starched.

On his chest are his ribbons and medals.
His bearing is erect, pride and dignity shine in his eye.
In his gnarled hands, sits a box of plastic "Red Poppies" on a pin.
The old man waits for people to notice, he is sure they will stop
and take a poppy and contribute a quarter or two,
after all Remembrance Day is coming.

They will remember he thinks.
They will take a poppy to wear to show their pride and gratitude.
He stands patiently watching as the people walk by.
The older people stop, smile, take a poppy.

They put a dollar in the can
For they remember as he does.
A few others stop, take a poppy, drop in some change, smile
and tell him about their dad or uncle or grandpa.

A few even snicker, laughing at the old man, commenting on how
ridiculous he looks in his old, too small uniform, standing out in the cold.

Others look at him with pity, for this poor old man is living the past.

But he continues to stand there, his bearing a little less erect.
A moistness gleaming in his eye.
But then he straightens, for he is a veteran who answered, when his country called.
He served his nation with everything he had, offered his life for others,
they remember, he knows.

Some young ones approach, but to him they're all young.
It's hard to tell their age, they stop next to him,
They understand he thinks and realize what he did,
They want to honour those who died in the war.
To say thank you to the few who remain.

They know that their freedom was won by him and others like him.
He smiles with pride.Then it happens.

One of them now speaks out.
"It was so long ago ! It's now ancient history. Forget about it !
Go home Old Man, no one cares about you anymore !"

The old man's face crumbles, tears shine in his eyes
His bearing is no longer erect.
The pain radiates around him.
Pain far worse than anything caused during the war.

He is now, nothing, just an old man,
Dressed in a uniform, one size too small, five decades old, smelling of mothballs.
With a box of plastic "red poppies" on pins for those who want to remember.

PLEASE when you see a VETERAN, dressed in his uniform, with a box of Red poppies in his hands, take a minute to stop Take one and WEAR IT PROUDLY ! It's the least we can do, to thank these men and women for all that they have done for us.

THE MAN WE NEVER KNEW
By Rabbi Myer Schector

There is a voice that begs listen
And it comes from across the sea,
Though you've never met the caller
Will you listen to his plea ?

Will you pause for just a moment,
Whisper soft a prayer or two,
Will you bow your head in silence
For the man we never knew ?

We know not what his name was,
Nor the colour of his skin,
We know not of his virtues,
Of the weakness of sins,

But we know he died in battle
Though he never cared for fight.
For our country's call had reached him,
And be died for what was right
Was he from the teeming city,
From the village, farm or town ?

Did he thrill to every sunrise,
Count his joys as night came down ?
Was the breath of life sweet for him
As is for me and you ?
Was he awed by nature's wonders,
This man we never knew ?
We know not what his thoughts were
As the end it swiftly came,

Did he ask for God's forgiveness,
Did he breathe his mother's name ?
Did he think of home and laughter,
Of a sweetheart, wife or friend ?
Did he yearn to stay that moment
As alone he hailed the end ?

He's asleep across the ocean,
With a hundred thousand more,
Who, for Canada and freedom,
Died on a foreign shore.
Yes, there's a voice that begs us listen
And this message is so plain,
"We have paid the price for freedom
Let it not have been in vain."

Will you pause for just a moment,
In your very busy day ?
Will you bow your head in silence
And a few words softly pray ?
Will you wear the blood red poppy
And with feelings that are true,
Give thanks to God for freedom,
And the man we never knew ?

Rabbi Schector, who had found this poem in the archives of his Royal Canadian Legion branch, is Director of Chaplaincy Services, the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, and chaplain of the Last Post Fund and of Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch No. 97, Royal Canadian Legion.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month.

This is the day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in times of war. It is hard for those in younger generations to imagine a time when young people went off to fight a war in a far off land, with a good chance of never returning home. It is hard to fathom the number of young men and women who gladly went to serve their country, the number who died, and the pain and loss felt by those who lost one (or more) of their loved ones. More than 110,000 Canadians died fighting in the World Wars and the Korean War.

THE LITTLE RED POPPY
By Linda Anne Lucas

Will you wear a poppy on your shirt today ?
Will you wear a poppy because you'd like to say,
Thank you, to the soldiers who bravely fought for you ?
"Thank you" to brave soldier who you never even knew.
A field of silver crosses,
A field of white ones too.
Each bears a little flower.... saying, "I remember you".
You died in war some time ago, to give us the life we live,
And through the gentle poppy,
My love and thanks I give.
Little red poppy on the cross,
Reminds us of our greatest loss.
A field of crosses in sunshine.
You lost your life and gave me mine.

Special to www.historicalmilitaria.com – 6 November 2002

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