Memorial Day weekend means two things these days, the more anticipated being the beginning of the summer season, with all the red-white-and-blue sales and the picnics and the opening of pools that go along with that.
Of course, Memorial Day is also a day of observance, a day set aside to remember the sacrifice of the many soldiers who’ve fallen in service to their countries, protecting freedom around the world.
We know the significance of the Remembrance poppies thanks to the iconic poem about Flanders Fields, and, to be honest, it always makes my heart swell a little when I see an elderly gentleman, perhaps a vet of the Vietnam War, or maybe even Korea, with his bundle of crepe poppies, raising funds for the VFW.
VFW – that would be the Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization of soldiers and sailors who have been called upon to leave home and fight on foreign soil. So many of these servicemen lost so many brothers, so far from their homes.
I always make it a point to obtain a poppy whenever the opportunity presents itself. I twine them around the rearview mirror of my car, as a sort of reminder, throughout the year, that freedom truly isn’t free. There’s a sense of continuity, too, as the posies fade in the sunlight throughout the year and are then covered by the next year’s additions.
Meanwhile, one local Post Office branch has become involved in a poppy-generated controversy, for which my city has actually made the national news, and it’s not something we should be proud of.
It seems that the Post Office has a no solicitation policy and, after decades waiving that policy for the vets, has pronounced that there will be no solicitation, no poppies, no collecting of donations for veterans.
On the one hand, it seems harsh – after all, the Post Office is one of – if not THE – largest employer of veterans in the country. And to summarily eject an elderly veteran from the premises after he’d set up his station seems more than a little stern. Surely this sudden policy enforcement could have been handled a bit more graciously. It’s the Post Office, after all. Couldn’t they have sent a letter or something before now?
But it’s what happened next that’s truly shameful.
Someone spirited away the Post Office flag, leaving a note in its place.
“You don’t deserve to fly this flag.”
Someone stole an American flag because he didn’t like the way that entity chose to conduct business on its own premises.
Over the observance of the countless soldiers who have fought and died over the years to, among other things, preserve the right to conduct business on our own property in our own way.