Remembrance Day - The Poppies in the Window November 08 2017
Yes, my father was a deserter. But he was also one of the many heroes.
But this night, was the night before the Soviets arrived. And my father saved hundreds of innocents as he ran alongside others, escaping this war. This revolution.
He ran from his post, after receiving the news of twenty-five thousand strong were marching towards him. He consciously ran thirty miles warning people along the way. He warned farmers in the fields working for the almost overthrown, albeit corrupt, government. He warned women and children cowering in the bushes, fields and shanties along the roadsides. And he warned strangers, knowing full well, they might just shoot him in the back, as he kept running, because after all, they may be secret police.
But most importantly, he warned my mother’s entire family. They all survived, by hiding, or running, or accepting the Soviet occupation. His own kin, did not.
They all ran out of time, and with tanks at his heals, grabbed my mother and older sister and made a run for it with the other thousands of Hungarians for the border.
Italy was the safe haven. That is what everyone knew. That is where they went, to catch a boat to Canada, Australia or South Africa, to safety, and the unknown. For if they had stayed, or took their chances, this story wouldn’t have been written. History would have definitely been different.
You also wouldn’t be able to read the reason I am writing this. Or why the poppy means so much to me and my family. Why I am so adamant about closing for the day. Why this one day of the year is most solemn and most reverered and true in my heart.
Dad always planted poppies in his garden. Wild, Hungarian poppies. It really doesn’t matter what the color, as long as they were pinks, oranges or reds. He tended them with more care than any of the other plants in his garden. Making sure the patches along the fence were weed free, even in the back lane. For him, they were a sign of respect of everyone he had lost. Everyone he had known. All the sacrifices. And all that was given up for his freedom. It was also a symbol of everything he gave up and did to save whom he could.
The Poppies were Dad’s way of paying respect.
In 1984, my father was pardoned for desertion and acknowledged for his contributions to saving his countrymen in the long but not forgotten past. He wore a poppy on that day.
Every day after that, he carried petals from his poppies, folded in a handkerchief in his pocket.
He always told me, Never forget.