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December 2006

It's that holiday time of year again. Before we even mention Christmas, let's go back to November and rethink Veteran's Day. It's just another three-day weekend, right? Say, what are those old dudes in uniform doing outside the Safeway selling silly paper poppies?

If you asked 10 people only one might know the story. Veteran's Day was originally Armistice Day, marking the end of the Great War. The Armistice was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918.

The poppies that the VFW soldiers sell date back to a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon serving in the Canadian Army, titled In Flander's Fields:

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.

Dr. McCrae wrote the poem after burying a friend in the spring of 1915, while noting thousands of wild poppies springing to life in the muddy cemetery. He discarded the poem but it was retrieved and soon published in Punch Magazine. He died in 1918 of pneumonia, but he lived to see his little poem help raise $400,000,000 in a Canadian Victory Bond drive.

In the 1920s Georgia teacher Moina Micheals started the tradition of selling paper poppies to raise money for memorials to honor slain soldiers.

 

 

During 1923 the Veterans of Foreign Wars began the tradition of selling the paper poppies, which were assembled by disabled vets who were paid for their work to provide a form of financial assistance. The VFW trademarked the name "Buddy" as an artificial flower, which guarantees any Buddy Poppy you buy since 1924 was hand-assembled by a disabled veteran in a VA hospital.

The VFW sells paper poppies to raise funds for disabled veterans every November. Don't buy one for a buck, throw the man a ten spot and a salute, and display the flower until you get a new one next year. We're not worthy, you dig?

 

Now on to Christmas... a holiday that needs little further introduction. Stop by your local VFW hall this month so you can hear some Christmas carols being sung with an artificial larynx for a different kind of holiday sound! If you can capture one on tape, send it to us and we'll offer it as a download!

 

Christmas isn't supposed to be about spoiling your rotten kids, getting a new Ping driver or a Gucci bag for yourself, eating too much, or drinking to excess! Be sure to visit the FlyingSanta.org web site so you can learn more about people who understand the true meaning of the holiday.

In addition to achieving the longest run of Flying Santa flights, Edward Rowe Snow was quite a prolific author. Here's an autograph from a copy of True Tales of Buried Treasure. You might find a copy on Ebay for a few bucks, this one isn't for sale! It's sad that kids don't read cool books like this anymore, but you can't compete with Nintendo!

Below is another view of Flying Santa's plane in front of a New England lighthouse.

 

Remember to throw some change in the Salvation Army bucket every time you shop in December; here's three reasons why this is a better idea than buying Girl Scout cookies:

The people that get the money actually need it, unlike your affluent SUV-riding, cell-phone text-messaging double-chinned neighbors' kids.

None of the money you contribute is skimmed off the top by a contract food manufacturer.

You don't have to add to the obesity epidemic by eating a box of cookies.

You will be thanked, maybe even blessed.

Girl Scout cookies still contain trans fat!

Hey, that's five!

Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!

 

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