Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Instead of Poppies

Instead of flags flying at the cemetery, how about autumn branches?
Instead of red poppies for Veterans Day, how about red leaves?

It was my friend Beata's Mom (back in Poland) who advised Beata when she came to live in the States, if you can't go visit your own ancestors on All Saints Day -- or All Souls Day or Veterans Day or Easter or Memorial Day -- then go visit someone else's. That's how we started our tradition of visiting a couple of small local cemeteries. Here's one of my favorites:

Burton Cemetery
Also called Old Bilderback or Klondike Cemetery
Corner of US Highway 52 & Klondike Road
Wabash Township ~ Tippecanoe County, Indiana

I have upon occasion, seen the
little Burton Cemetery decorated patriotically:

but when I stopped by today
there was only one flag flying:
Oct 2 1759
August 6 1834

In the past, I have felt somewhat guilty for posting anti - war sentiment on Veterans Day, as I have done in previous years.* However, reading Harry Leslie Smith's honest, admirable essay --

This Year I Will Wear the Poppy for the Last Time

-- reassures me that it is not wrong to do so. Smith, a Veteran of World War II and author of Harry's Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It [available soon] and 1923: A Memoir Lies and Testaments [same year my dad was born] knows whereof he speak. He objects to the fact that:

"The most fortunate in our society have turned the solemnity of remembrance for fallen soldiers in ancient wars into a justification for our most recent armed conflicts. . . . I will no longer allow my obligation as a veteran to remember those who died in the great wars to be co-opted by current or former politicians to justify our folly in Iraq, our morally dubious war on terror and our elimination of one's right to privacy.

"Come 2014 when the government marks the beginning of the first world war with quotes from Rupert Brooke, Rudyard Kipling and other great jingoists from our past empire, I will declare myself a conscientious objector.

"Next year, I won't wear the poppy but I will . . . remember . . . ."

Red Leaves for Remembrance

*Previous & Additional
Veterans Day posts:

Armistice Day

Wartime Soldier, Wartime Child

"The same war continues . . . "

94 Years Ago Today

Flanders Fields ~ What Have We Learned?

War Horse

Point of Balance


Instead of Poppies

Veterans Eve


Pale Battalions

A Form of Madness


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and beautiful post, Kitti. I agree with Harry Smith, and thank you for sharing an excerpt from his essay and sharing your beautiful photos of the Burton Cemetery.

  2. Kathleen O'Gorman: What a lovely tradition you and Beata (and her Mom) have taken on! And the Harry Leslie Smith piece is powerful, compelling. Thanks for both.

    Barbara Tilley: Very powerful, indeed