Lady B. Good evening, Miss Neville. What is that red flower adorning your evening gown? I shall not mention that it clashes with your orange ribbons.
I appreciate your restraint. It is a poppy and I am wearing it because it is November the 11th. Here let me pin one to your gown.
Lady B. It goes very well with my ivory satin. I suppose we are celebrating one of your strange American holidays.
In a way, though this one is observed in many countries. It is variously known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, and, in the United States, Veterans Day. The date marks the end of a war that you and I both managed to avoid, luckily for us because it was as about as nasty and pointless as a war can get and that’s saying something.
Lady B: We used to celebrate Agincourt Day (where a Beaufetheringstone ancestor distinguished himself) and now we rejoice in our victory at Trafalgar each October 21st. No doubt we will forever remember Waterloo in June.
Aside. OK, we’re post 1815 today. I’m not going to tell Lady B that after World War I people weren’t so keen on those triumphant victory parades. These days Waterloo and Trafalgar Days are pretty much only acknowledged by the armed services.
I don’t think I would call Veterans Day a celebration. It’s an opportunity to honor our military for the suffering and sacrifices they make for us.
Lady B: Quite right. I knew many young men we have lost in the wars against Bonaparte, and others who survived but will never be the same again. Explain the poppies.
After this terrible war, hundreds of thousands of men were buried in fields where poppies began to grow after the carnage ended. The paper poppies are sold as a fundraiser for British military charities.
Lady B: I belong to a group helping the widows and orphans of our fallen soldiers. It’s shocking how poor some of them are, and the returning soldiers themselves need work. I shall buy hundreds of your poppies and use them to decorate the ballroom tonight.
Lady B bustles off with that mad redecorating look in her eye. I’m not entirely sure how this poppy purchase works with the time-space continuum but I honor her intentions.
I have mixed feelings about romances set in wars and soldier heroes. I love to read them – there are some wonderful examples of both – but I would find it personally wrenching to write about the horrors of battle.
Do you have any favorite military romances or soldier heroes you would like to recommend this Veterans Day?