Monday, November 12, 2007


Of course when I was writing "Poppies..." just now, I was hearing the Wicked Witch of the West say, "Poppies...poppies...poppies will put them to they sleep," as she is watching Dorothy and her friends (in a giant crystal ball) cross the huge field of red poppies when they're headed to Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. But this post has absolutely nothing to do with that.

In 1918, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, the First World War ended. (Who knew?) You don't hear that much about WWI these days, and I certainly missed out a lot growing up in Hurst, Texas. I don't want to disparage the Texas Public School System but (and I know I've told this story before, but it's worth repeating) when I was in graduate school in Brooklyn, a friend was telling me about WWII and I was on the edge of my seat. Upon hearing about what Mr. Hitler had been up to during the war, I kept saying, "Get out of here. And no one stopped him?"

I was too interested in the story to be embarrassed that at 24 my understanding of world history was full of big holes. I don't want to say that I'd never heard the story, but I certainly had only the vaguest of memories. I mostly remember my grandmother's recollections of living through that time, which have a different emphasis than the same story told by a European. My grandfather wanted to so something, but was blind in one eye, so he worked on making ships in Washington State. No one died. My family was all but unaffected by the war. They rationed and did without, but it was certainly nothing like what went on here in Holland.

One thing I do remember is my childhood friend, David, calling the two wars "War War One" and "War War Two." (I made him say it slowly so that I understood him completely.) He also insisted that "Japs" was short for "Germans." He was obviously a reliable source of information and a big part of my education.

I am so far off course.

Anyway, every year at our church, we have a Remembrance Day service and there is a little military presence (they bring in flags) and a bit of a ceremony and these fake poppies (see photo) are sold for one euro at the welcome desk. You can read more about The Poppy Appeal on the Internet. It's an ongoing effort to support the Royal British Legion which "provides financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces, and their dependants." (America seems to be a little behind the curve on that one.)

And it's a part of our service every year. This is one of those odd little experiences that I get living here that I would probably remain completely ignorant of had I not relocated - and had I not started going to this church. Makes me think of all the experiences I'm not getting because I didn't move to Norway or Japan or Denmark, not that I was going to move there.

As a side note, I would like to call your attention to the sweater in the photo. It's a Gap sweater. They called it "boiled wool." I read that eight years ago and thought, Who would boiled wool? That's part of what made me get back into knitting. I knew that these sweaters (I have two, but I wish I'd bought twenty) would one day wear out and I wanted to be able to knit myself one before it was completely gone. I just saw the first sign of wear that made me say, "Oh...geez!" today. Of course the gauge is about 25 stitches to the inch. It would be ridiculous to even try to replicate it, but I now have the skills to do something I'll love. ("The skills"? How ghetto was that?)

And thanks to my photographer from yesterday, Alastair, a total champ in many, many ways. He sits beside me in choir and makes me laugh. He was even the connection for my latest job. And anything that I was going to say that was snarky has been replaced by this last sentence.


American Irish said...

Great post about WW1. I always take time out to remember those who fought this war, not many our left and their sacrifice should not be forgotten. So thanks for posting about them.

Anonymous said...

Snarky? You? I don't believe it!