Today marks the day for a couple of things. Today as a family we start the day as the longest time the girls have gone without seeing their Daddy. They last saw him 3 weeks and 1 day ago.
It is also Remembrance Day, the anniversary of 100 years since the end of World War 1. Remembrance Day is important every year, but always a little more poignant when your other half is away on an overseas deployment. One can’t help buy think about all those wives who lost their husbands, all the children that lost their fathers, everyone that lost someone. In the UK, in November we wear poppies to remember those who died in battle in WW1.
Why wear a poppy? Where does it come from?
Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, in spring of 1915 saw poppies growing on one of the fields that was battle scarred. These flowers are delicate but resilient and grew again amongst the warfare and after all other wildlife scattered and refused to grow in these places. These flowers inspired McCrae to write a poem called, ‘In Flanders Fields.’
Moina Michael, an American academic who was in turn inspired by this poem felt moved to start making poppies made from silk. They were then brought to England by a French woman Anna Guérin. In 1921, The Royal British Legion formed and ordered 9 million of these poppies to be sold on 11 November that year. They sold out almost immediately and raised a £106,000 in the first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’. This money went towards helping veterans of WW1 in regards to employment and housing. The next year a factory was set up by Major George Howson who employed disabled ex-servicemen.
In Scotland, approximately 5 million poppies are sold every year by Poppyscotland.
We've been talking a lot about Remembrance Day this year. Little Feet A is more aware of it’s relevance to her life. She sees people in uniform everyday and it is about remembering people in uniform. She has been really interested in it, what it means and why we wear them. She has been desperate for her own poppy and is super proud of wearing it.
I wanted to write a piece about some of the conversations that have been going on in our house over the last month. I am aware I have shared a lot on social media, but not on here so let me open a window into our The Rainbow Tree home life.
In September, Daddy Big Feet was away for a 'long work' (3 weeks), before the epic of 5 month deployment. Little Feet and I had the following conversation:
Little Feet A turned to me and asked 'Superheroes only come when baddies need to be stopped right?' I replied, 'Sure, yes I guess that's right.' I paused and the next words that came out of my mouth surprised me. I hadn't rehearsed them in my head previously or ever connected the two.
I replied, 'but you realise that's why Daddy is away so much right?' She looked at me quizzically and waited for me to continue. 'Daddy is a superhero. When he goes away it's because he is helping all the other superheroes to stop the bad guys. His uniform is his superhero costume and his cape... well his cape is invisible.' Her jaw dropped as she pondered this for a moment and then thoughtfully responded, 'I'm going to ask Daddy more about this when we next talk'.
I know this conversation really struck a chord with her because she has talked about it lots since. In another Instagram post this week I shared a drawing she had made at school of poppies in a field. They have obviously been talking about it in class a bit. When she showed me it I said, ' Wow that's beautiful. Can you tell me about them, can you remember what they mean?' She said, 'yes Mummy, they are there so we can remember them.' 'Remember who *Little Feet A?' 'Remember all the superheroes that came before us and kept us safe from the baddies'.
Yesterday she asked me, 'Are you a superhero Mummy?' I said 'No, I'm not.' She replied, 'Can Mummies not be superheroes?' I said, 'Of course they can! There are LOTS of superhero Mummies being superheroes right now.' She paused and thought about it. 'Can I be one now?' I replied, ‘You've got to train to be one. When you are big you can be one if you like.' She said, ‘I want to be a superhero just like Daddy.’ I smiled, 'I know Daddy will be super proud of whatever you do, but I know he would definitely love that.'
Talking to our Little Feet about Remembrance Day is tricky. For those who may say it's celebrating war this is untrue and in my opinion frankly disrespecting the lives that never made it back, the ones who made it back but were forever scarred in body and mind. The young soldiers, airmen and sailors who were basically still teenagers, the ones who made it back but had to grow up too fast and were forever changed in their view of the world.
I know that for me personally I want to protect my children from the world for as long as I can. They don't need to know about the specifics, the devastating and life altering numbers that died. They don’t need to know about the conditions they lived in or the weapons that were used. What they do need to know is that thousands of people died and worked tirelessly to look after the people at home. The ones who worked tirelessly to keep us safe, to allow us to live the lives we live right now and not only that, but to realise there are still superheroes that work tirelessly to continue to keep us safe.
I chose in a blink of an eye to compare these brave men and women as superheroes. Little Feet A is 4 years old. She can relate to superheroes. She plays superheroes and ninjas, princesses and knights. These are things she can relate to and sometimes it’s easier to explain in those terms.
Really at the end of the day, to us all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and officers, everyone that fought in any capacity and died for us or lived and suffered, they were all superheroes. They had a courage that still teaches us to this day to stand up for what we believe in. To be scared and still do? That, that is true courage. For that, they will always be remembered. For that we should always teach of the sacrifice and the freedom it has given us today.
We are a forces family, 3 weeks and a day into our 5 month deployment journey. One we are choosing to share with the everyone. One we hope to shed a little light on the myths of military life, the truths, the highs and the lows. The little things that help us get through these long periods of separation and the days that we want to highlight that are important to those who have had relatives in the military in the past and have them in the military today. For many it is a calling, but back then it was a necessity to fight for our freedom and many felt like their duty to do their part whether that was in the factories or on the front line or whether they didn’t have a choice.
This year is is the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. So from us to the generation who fought in that horrifying war, we want to say thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Though a hundred years have past know we still remember you, know your sacrifice still means something, know we are still teaching our children, know we are still wearing poppies and that in our household you are known as superheroes. Past superheroes and present superheroes that continue to inspire the next generation. Know that my 4 year old daughter wants to have courage like you, wants to be brave like you and wants to be just like all those superheroes still holding the flame for you today.