His wrinkled eyes sparkled in the bright May sun and a smile was perpetually glued on his face. His lawn chair was sitting in front of potted plants that the grocery store was selling. Just above him, “Save More” was plastered in large white letters, the name of the store in Minocqua, Wisconsin. My family always stopped here before heading Up North to the cabin and this time was no exception.
I trotted behind my mother’s blonde ponytail, approaching the automatic sliding doors. Before we strolled in, the old man, sporting a worn “WWII Vet” baseball cap, reached his hand out to me. He placed a red poppy flower with a green, wiry stem that was made out of paper in my seven-year old hand. Instead of politely saying thank you and forgetting about it, my dad explained what this poppy flower symbolized. “Honey, the flower is something people give out on Memorial day to remember those that loved their country enough to fight for it.” And, for some reason, his words stuck with me. When we finished grocery shopping, I bolted to our green van and flung open the back door. I climbed into the back seat and wrapped the stem at the top of the seat belt.
Afterwards, every time I climbed in the backseat, I would take a moment to straighten out the flower so it was upright, and it stayed upright for seven years until we sold the car...and the the flower went with it.
The poppy flower standing tall for so long represents the tenacity and resiliency of the men and women that fought for the unalienable rights that we Americans are fortunate enough to have.
Memorial Day is a red poppy flower clung in a young girl’s palm, hung on the seatbelt of a family van, colors fading but remaining resolute.