Greetings My Dear Friends of the Blog,
Seven years ago, my beloved husband, Dale, bid us an earthly farewell. While Kevin and I held him in our arms, he gave us the O.K. sign, with a finger and thumb together, and a faint smile as he stepped into Heaven. It took a great effort on Dale’s part to use his last breath to complete his promise (made when he still could fully communicate) that, “As the evidence of my faith that Jesus is real and Heaven is real, I will smile and give you the O.K. sign as I leave.” And he did indeed see the reality of Jesus and Heaven. Praise The Lord for this gracious comfort.
I wrote Dale’s story of courage and endurance in a blog called “The Story behind the CMG Blog,” archived on January 24, 2009. Since then, throughout these blogs, you may have come to know Dale as our own “Edison-inventor-Dad.” But our four sons say they remember him best for showing them, “How a man should love his wife!” What a lovely remembrance!
“Remembrance” will be the key word heard throughout this week as we approach America’s Memorial Day, or “Poppy Day,” as it is also known. How much we owe to those who gave their lives in battle for the freedom of us all and the future of our children; such children as those in this rhyme from the Christian Mother Goose Prayers.
As radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham said Memorial week, “We need to fall in love with America all over again.”
As I stood in our flag garden today, I thought of the many times Dale and I talked together there, reminiscing about stories and scenes along life’s journey. Some of those stories are what I call “Poppy Day” Pages. And so for this upcoming Memorial Day blog, I share a few stories that wear a “remembrance poppy.”
In 1997 Dale and I were visiting the picturesque town of Canterbury, England. There is an unfolding mystery there, involving Christian Mother Goose, that has drawn me to Canterbury several times. I hope to tell you that tale some day.
This particular day, we were strolling around the magnificent, ancient Canterbury Cathedral, named Christ Church. Its architecture is breathtaking, ornately embellishing its long history of being the site of Christian worship continuously since at least 602 A.D.
In one of the gardens I noticed a stone slab in a wall, etched with a soldier’s image and these words: “When you return, tell them of us and say: “‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’”
What a powerful message from the vast armada of men and women who gave their “today” for the rest of us to gain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those words seemed a “remembrance poppy” of the shed blood of those we must never forget!
Poppy Day is now commemorated throughout the world in honor of fallen heroes. It was an American lady, Moina Michael who, in 1918, caught the significance of a picture of red field poppies growing between a multitude of crosses in the battlefields of Flanders in France. It was two days before the Armistice of November 11, 1918 – the end of World War I –
Moina vowed to always wear the red poppy of Flanders’s field as a sign “for keeping the faith of all who died.” After tirelessly campaigning, this Christian lady finally saw Memorial Day established in honor of all who died defending America’s freedom.
On Poppy Day in England, the Girl Guides sold red silk poppies to raise funds for the benefit of disabled veterans. I was a Guide, about twelve, at the time of my story and was given the post to sell poppies on the steps of the Liverpool Museum. Now, it so happens that the museum was one of my supreme treats – I loved feasting on the fascinating treasures inside. But I was standing outside, with four hours to wish I could be inside!
Then, like Adam’s Eve, a tempting thought occurred to me. I could place my poppy tray and cylinder money-holder on the top step of the museum near the door. (Surely, museum lovers were honest and patriotic.) So I left my now-self-dispensing poppy stand and disappeared into a world of knights in armor, treasures of ancient Egypt, tropical birds and other wonders.
A sailing ship’s large log book had several pages of people listed as “Indentured Servants.” They were sailing from Liverpool in the 17th century to far off America. Little did I know that America lay in my own future!
About three hours later, my conscience prevailed, and I ran back to my previously deserted post. To my relief, the money cylinder was still there, with many of the silk poppies gone! I shook the cylinder and it gave a nice, full sound. Ah! honesty and patriotic generosity had reigned that Poppy Day, but my Girl Guide heart felt ashamed that I had left my post.
Thank God for those who didn’t leave their posts in battle, regardless of the high cost of courage.
My Grandmother Turton used to say, “War took all my sons.” She had five sons and three daughters. My mother, Sarah, was the youngest, and she would tell me stories of her soldier brothers. David gassed in the Battle of Gallipoli; John killed on the Khyber Pass; handsome “Gentleman” Bill who, although being a conscientious objector, volunteered to serve his country by cooking for the soldiers on the frontline. He was killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Brother Thomas tried to find him – a soldier without a gun – one of 58,000 British troops who were lost the very first day of battle. How Heaven must weep!
The Lord Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) But in the greatest war of all, the war for the souls of lost earthlings, the Bible records in Romans 5:13 this marvel: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus never left His post; He willingly allowed Himself to be nailed to it – the Cross of Calvary – where His shed blood drenched the scene of the greatest battlefield of all time and eternity. The scene of the great Conqueror of sin and death; The Son of God and Savior of the world; yet, also the Gentle Jesus Who said, “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
It was at the Last Supper that The Lord Jesus raised the cup and said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1.Corinthians 11:25) Remembrance of His sacrifice for all of us, the price of our redemption. All praise and honor to Him, The Prince of Peace!
May the Creator of the Memorial Day poppies soon return to bring this world true peace.
And a very special salute to all those brave service men and women who have defended our great country.
Blessings in Him,
Christian Mother Goose®