POST-GAZETTE Res Publica
Buy a Poppy for a Disabled Vet
by David Trumbull -- May 25, 2012
Each year I see fewer and fewer men on the street wearing remembrance poppies on Memorial Day, since 1971 celebrated on the last Monday in May. One year I couldn’t even find anyone selling Buddy Poppies, the paper replica flowers that the Veterans of Foreign Wars sell to raise money for disabled veterans.
Ninety years ago, before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW conducted its first poppy distribution, thus becoming the first veterans' group to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
In 1924 the VFW registered with the U.S. Patent Office the trademark right to the name Buddy Poppy. The VFW guarantees that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization, firm or individual can legally use the name Buddy Poppy.
When you buy your Buddy Poppy to wear this Memorial Day you will be giving material aid to a disabled veteran. And when you wear your Buddy Poppy you will be, to everyone who sees you, a reminder of the meaning of Memorial Day.
The American Legion also sells crepe paper poppies for Memorial Day. That is another fine organization worthy of your support.
Although the United States Department of Veterans Affairs states “The wearing of poppies in honor of America's war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day” many of us do join our friends from the British Commonwealth nations in wearing the red poppy of remembrance on November 11th as well.
This Memorial Day remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to cause of liberty.
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.
—John McCrae (1872-1918)
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
by David Trumbull -- May 4, 2012
Congress wanted to commemorate the holiday Cinco de Mayo, but they could not agree on the date.All joking aside, congress could be forgiven for being confused about Cinco de Mayo. Often mistaken, in America, for Mexico's Fourth of July (Mexico's Independence Day is, in fact, celebrated on September 16th), it commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where, in 1862, about 4,000 poorly equipped Mexican soldiers defeated an invading French army of twice that size. It isn't a big holiday in most of Mexico, rather it is local to the City of Puebla in central Mexico.
--Humorist Mark Russell at the 2011 Robert Benchley Society Annual Awards Dinner.
In other words, Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent to Bunker Hill Day or perhaps Patriots' Day, a local celebration of a local battle that had national importance.
Cinco de Mayo is now observed throughout the U.S., where it is a much bigger holiday than it is in Mexico. Some U.S. celebrations now extend to honoring Hispanic ancestry and culture of all origins -- North American, Central American, South American, and Caribbean -- not solely Mexican.
American love of Mexican cuisine and of the distinctly Mexican liquor, Tequila, has helped spread enjoyment of Cinco de Mayo, as has, frankly, the commercial interest of food and beverage vendors. Never one to pass on an excuse for a party, I'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo, although perhaps with Bourbon rather than Tequila, the 5th falling on the first Saturday in May, which makes it Kentucky Derby Day.
The Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, may have been as significant for American history as it was for Mexico. It was during the American Civil War and many historians believe that France was on the verge coming to the aid of the Southern Confederates. The French defeat at Puebla put an end to such plans, if any. Who knows, had Mexico not defeated the French that day the United States might be several States fewer today. That's if the Union survived at all after a Civil War with foreign involvement. So, perhaps it is fitting that Cinco de Mayo is bigger holiday north of the border -- Viva Mexico!