My mother was born in 1918 during World War I. At the time, her Uncle Robert was in Europe with the U. S. Forces. Uncle Robert was a bachelor, and the family was afraid he would be killed before having the opportunity to marry and have a son to continue his name. Even though her last name was different than Uncle Robert's, my mother was named Robert. Everyone in her family called her Bobbie, except for Uncle Robert, who did return home, married and fathered two sons and a daughter. He and his wife did not name any of their children Robert. Uncle Robert never knew that my mother had her name legally changed to Bobbie in the early 1960's. He always called her Robert.
My mother loved a poppy. I always wondered if it was because of the significance of the poppy in World War I. She always worked so hard selling poppies with other members of the American Legion Auxiliary in Lewisburg. It is that time of the year again.
In April as we drove through a town in Mississippi, men were selling poppies at an intersection. I made a donation and received one but thought it was from another organization. It had a tag on it for the American Legion Auxiliary. It made me think of my mother and was promptly tied to the rear view mirror of our truck. She and her Auxiliary friends always sold poppies Memorial Day weekend. One of her favorite spots was in front of Kroger in Lewisburg. She even managed to sit there and sell a few after she was diagnosed with cancer. I noticed that the Lewisburg paper said the sale there was in April. Evidently they have changed the date from Memorial Day.
In an effort to catch up on my reading materials, I picked up my American Legion Auxiliary Home Front magazine today. There is an article entitled "Remembering the poppy", and following it was the poem "In Flanders Fields." It used to be very special, not only to my mother but also to others who had family and friends in World War I.
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.