Archives of Our Lives

{a narrow and broad look into the lives of people I love}

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Miracle of the Elevens.

Last night, after watching a movie on my laptop with Poor Kyle, I glanced up at the toolbar in the right hand corner and noticed the battery read 11% charged. I plugged in the laptop to let it build up juice, and went to lay my tired little head on the memory foam pillow awaiting it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the red numbers of the alarm clock glaring out at me: 11:11 p.m. On the eve of November 11. 11/11. 11%. 11:11 p.m.

It's a Remembrance Day miracle.

Image from here.

Where I grew up, this holiday was called Veteran's day, and it meant absolutely nothing to me. That sounds cold and heartless, but it's true. To me, it was a day off school. The end. While I'm sure my teachers put forth a noble effort to help me appreciate the significance of the day, I'm also sure I blocked those attempts out of my memory--I didn't care why we had a holiday, but I was glad.

Well, I've changed. Maybe it's the fact I've moved to Canada where I'm inundated with poppies and flags and war stories and memorials, or maybe I've just grown up [the former, most likely]. But whatever the reason, I find my thoughts drawn ever-increasingly to the veterans of old these days.

Cemetery-Brussels, Belgium, 2007. I passed this site every day while I was living in Belgium, on my way to drop off my charge at school.

If you are American, you may or may not have ever heard of the significance behind poppies at this time of year. You may not even know what a poppy is--I know I didn't, until a few years ago. {Poppy seed that's another story.}

Well you're in luck--it looks like this. Image from here.

In Canada and England, the poppy is hailed as a symbol of the sacrifice veterans made for peace back in World War One (and all wars thereafter). Based on a poem written by Major John McCrae published in 1915, the poppy has come to signify all the lives given during time of war. The poem is very moving; Canadians have rather adopted it as their own, and even have it printed in itty bitty writing (both English and French, of course) on their ten-dollar bill:

That's some hard-core appreciation right there. Image from here.

Don't worry--you needn't strain your eyes to read the teeny words. I've reprinted them here. Normally I'm not much of a poet, but it's an important day. I have a huge amount of love, respect, and appreciation for our veterans. One of my grandpas made the military his career, and sacrificed much to do so; my other grandpa was drafted into the Korean war, but went willingly. Both are heroes to me, along with everyone else who fought--or is fighting--in some way for these countries.

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae (1915)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
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.

Image from here.

I wouldn't have gotten all sappy on you, except for the Remembrance Day Miracle I was given last night--it was a sign, for sure. Happy Veteran's day, and please take a moment or two to remember and give appreciation to those who deserve it.

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Blogger lindser-lou said...

that is beautiful camille, and very enlightening...thanks for educating those of us who share your past views of "it's just another day off". Always nice to be reminded of what's truly important.

November 11, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful Remembrance Day tribute, Camille. Thank you so much. I've heard that poem so many times, still brings a tear, for those who sacrificed their lives for our Nations.

(Did ya get the new poppy quarter? Shoppers Drug Mart has 'em.)

November 11, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Niki (Crum) Worthen said...

Lovely. And spoken so eloquently. Much gratitude!

About your fear of purchasing broken chandeliers... Probably 75% of the ones I own do not work. Having it work is just icing on the cake for me. I think they are lovely enough just hanging there.

November 11, 2008 at 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for this camille. it was nice.

November 11, 2008 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Really nice post today. I am just like you. I had no idea what Veteran's Day was, until I "grew up" (theoretically). Now, it makes me smile and tear up all at the same time when I think about it. Thanks for reminding me.

November 11, 2008 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger HeatherPride said...

You go deep, Camille. I remember getting little red paper poppies from the Vets back in my home town on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But that is part of the charm of living in a small town.

Great tribute!

November 11, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Molly Shumway Rawlins said...

that poem on your money is so cool. Now I want to move to Canada even more! I have always loved poppies. That picture in Belgium was also beautiful.

November 11, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Heber Austin said...

Thank you, Camille. I'm glad you did this post until I read it I hadn't given thought at all to the significance of "my day off". And thanks for that awesome comment too, it was a real booster.

November 11, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a lovely tribute. Thanks for posting to help me remember...

November 11, 2008 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jami said...

Hey Camille. Do you want to go to Greece next April/May? SERIOUSLY! I will email you later with more details.

November 11, 2008 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

Lindser-Lou-- Thank you, and you're welcome. It's been a lovely day off up here, and I'm always glad to remember honourable people.

Jeff-- You're welcome. No, I didn't get the quarter because I don't leave the house anymore on account of I don't brush my hair anymore. But the next time I shop there, I'll see about picking one up. I have a breast cancer quarter--I like it.

Niki (crum) Worthen-- Thanks! I really might be more motivated now than ever to get my hands on a few of the lovely chandeliers available. You've inspired me.

Anonymous-- You're welcome. I know, right?

Katie-- Thank you so much! I am always tickled when you comment, because you live in such a fancy state.

Heatherpride-- I was going to include of the photo of the little poppy that everyone wears on their lapels this time of year, but I didn't want to get out of bed and take a picture of it. Call me lazy. I'll answer to it.

November 11, 2008 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

Molly shumway Rawlins-- I know, I like the poem, too. Even if it IS a poem. I've liked it since the first time I heard it. And did you know that Canadians not only write poems on their money, but they colour-coordinate it, and print little bumps of braile in the corner of each bill, so visually impaired people can spend, too? Neat-o.

Heber Austin-- You're welcome and you're welcome. Did you know I like you? I do.

Anonymous my sister-- You're welcome. Thanks for making me a sweet christmas gift! I'm really excited for that!

Jami-- Yes.

November 11, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger nativeunderwater said...


Thanks for posting this. As I am dating someone who is in Iraq for the 2nd time, I appreciate that you took the time to remember what this day is for.

November 11, 2008 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger nativeunderwater said...


Thanks for posting this. As I am dating someone who is in Iraq for the 2nd time, I appreciate that you took the time to remember what this day is for.

November 11, 2008 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Geneva said...

The poppy is an American symbol too. The American Legion sells them to benefit the veterans. I had no idea about it until Girls' State.

Beautiful post. I'm glad you wrote it.

November 13, 2008 at 6:50 PM  

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