Poppies – originally published November 11, 2008

I don’t want to discuss the politics of war, not today. I don’t want to discuss egos, power struggles, or strange ulterior motives. I don’t want to discuss how looking at the young, young faces in war footage makes me sad or how images of rows of white crosses makes me feel physically ill. I am fully cognizant about how wars begin and about both sides of the story. My husband has a dear friend in the military who has already completed one tour of duty in Afghanistan and may be sent for another. But that is not what I want to discuss.

What I was thinking about today is that I have two boys. If they were growing up in a different era, say an era of conscription, maybe I would have none. Or maybe I would still have two boys, but they would be scarred for life, mentally or physically. Maybe I would be waiting months for a letter, only to get a censored one with little information. Maybe the boys would be suffering in ways I can’t even imagine, for reasons that start small but grow to be bigger than life. When I see the wreaths being laid by the mothers and families of the fallen, that is what I think of.

The boys came home from preschool with their poppy crafts and lots of questions. I tried to answer with honesty, yet who wants to be too honest with children that age? How do you discuss war with children who don’t comprehend why so-and-so hit another kid in their class or so-and-so called someone else a stupid-head? I used words like bravery, respect, standing up for what you believe in, but the explanations are too vague even for such young children.

When I see an elderly man in a parking lot, getting out of his car with a veteran license plate, I swallow hard and think about the mother who cried with joy when her son came home.

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