As far back as I can remember Johnny has been fascinated by the tradition of wearing “poppies” once a year on our coats to honour Remembrance Day. Is it the colour? Is it because its a predictable tradition that comes again each year like clock work? He started learning about it when he was 3 years old in Nursery School. When he began to talk he told me “we wear a poppy to remember the soldiers that died.” He now says “we wear a poppy to remember the soldiers that died and the people that died during the wars. It is sad but its good to remember.” He’s been learning more about Remembrance Day and its history in Grade 2 but 2 weeks ago two soldiers were killed in separate incidents in different cities in my country and the shock of these tragic events have forced schools to try and help the kids make sense of what they might be seeing on the front page of newspapers in newspaper stands as they walk home from school. The sad pictures are not of old black and white memories but of sad history happening right now. Johnny had a handout in class where they had to colour a poppy and cut it out and stick it to a giant green cross outside of their classroom. Johnny brought it home instead to show me what he did and what he wrote.
Then he cut it out and said he want to give it to his sister to put it on her coat to wear. We laminated it and attached it to her coat and she was so happy because he made it special for her. As my cousin said, “now that’s a poppy.”
My little girl who is in kindergarten says she wears her poppy for the boys who died and were being remembered during her Daddy’s TV show. I was very confused because we don’t watch TV news when the Johnny and Princess are around but we do have the Saturday night NHL hockey game on. Before a game they had a solemn ceremony with soldiers in their dress uniforms with a moment of silence. Its moments like this that you realize how much children take in even in the smallest amount and what they take in even if you are not sure they are getting it in that moment.
I realize again history is happening right now and in little ways I can try and help them make sense of what is happening in an age appropriate way. For Johnny it is drawing poppies to wear. Yesterday he noticed that his SLP was not wearing a poppy on her blouse. She asked him if he knew why it wasn’t there and he did not. She asked him where his was and he told her it was on his coat. She told him that is where her’s is too. Then he asked if he could have a post it note, a red marker or pen, and a green one too. He sat and drew her a poppy and put it over her heart.
“It is right to remember those who have died.” Powerful words from the mouth of a child who lost his beloved Grandpa nearly 3 years ago and whose grave he placed red poppies. Read here: http://wp.me/p1KVmo-1Re
They wear the poppy to remember those who have died as an act of remembering. There are no philosophy attached or politics but innocent sentimentality. Thank you Johnny and Princess for reminding me of this and may we have a peaceful Remembrance Day.
To learn more:
1) The tradition of wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day: http://www.legion.ca/honour-remember/the-poppy-campaign/
2) The death of two Canadian soldiers in Canada: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-shooting-a-look-back-at-how-the-week-unfolded-1.2811614