November 11, 2000. Remembrance Day. I was still hard at work writing Exit Poll, but somehow it seemed wrong to me to be writing a silly little fluff piece about American politics on this solemn day. So I stopped what I was doing and, within a few hours, wrote this heartfelt scene. This story came into being because I felt a need to write it, I can't explain it any other way.


Poppies for Remembrance


She had contacted them all, in hopes that they would come, and now she stood in the cold autumn air, waiting. The sombre shades of her longcoat, gloves and scarf were broken by a single spot of blood-red: a felt poppy, worn with pride. She carried with her a basket holding more poppies, a wreath, and a small book. As the appointed time approached, she began to worry that maybe they wouldnít come. Despite how important this was to her, she hadnít explained it very well; "Come to the memorial, be there in time for 11:00; I want to share something with you."

Duncan arrived first, tall and proud and, as always, scanning cautiously for trouble. When he spotted her, he relaxed somewhat, though still uncertain what was about to occur. In the short time he had known the young Canadian, he had never seen her so serious. She gestured him closer, solemnly pinning the small red shape to his coat. "Whatís this?"

"A poppy," she whispered, reverently, "for Remembrance."

The others joined them, one by one, and she repeated her tiny ceremony for each one. A poppy for Joe Dawson, a veteran himself; who knew what Debra was doing and seemed quietly grateful. Another for Amanda who, though less certain of the event, at least restrained herself from acting like it was all a game. Finally, one for Methos, who had seen more than any of them could ever imagine. Once this was completed, she walked up the steps of the memorial and carefully placed the wreath.

She turned; looked at the tiny gathering, and for the first time a tiny smile passed across her face. Though her voice was quiet, she spoke as if to a crowd. She was the youngest of them all, and the least experienced, yet there was a quiet dignity to her as she spoke.

"The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Iím not sure about anyone else, but in Canada, this is a time for Remembrance. A day, not to celebrate victories, not to glorify war; but to pause and reflect, to remember those who fought and returned, and those who never came back."

She paused and looked each of the Immortals steadily in the eye. "I know it might be hard for some of you to see something less than a hundred years old as a tradition; but coming from a nation that has itself not yet seen its 200th year, I know that an event doesnít have to be old to be important." She glanced at Dawson, dear Joe, who had given so much. "I know you may not believe that someone whoís never seen war could truly understand it. I wasnít part of the generations who fought, but mine was the generation taught to remember." Her voice caught for a moment as she swallowed down tears. "Let us observe now, one minute of silence."

She stepped down from the memorial and stood among her friends, bowing her head solemnly. The others joined her without hesitation, and in the silence each one stood alone in their own memories.

Joe Dawson closed his eyes, gripped his cane, and remembered it all. The pride and patriotism of a young man joining the Marine Corps; the first battle, which is never like what they teach you in Basic; slogging through stinking swamps never knowing where the enemy might be. He remembered blood and pain and chaos; old friends lost. He recalled that single defining moment of his life: when a man who couldnít die saved his life from an exploding mine; when his soul was saved from the depths of despair by a man with a Watcher tattoo.

Duncan MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod, had seen so many armies, so many wars, that they had all begun to run together in his mind. He remembered being in the trenches on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the announcement came that the "war to end all wars" was finally over. He remembered working with the Resistance in the NEXT war to end all wars, and how close he had come to ending that one so much sooner.

He had seen young men sacrificed in Civil wars, Revolutionary wars, wars against tyranny and wars to gain freedom. He knew though, that Death didnít care who fought, or for what reasons. He recalled older, more personal battles in his own Highlands, the Battle of Culloden, the deaths on the battlefield and the massacre of innocents. He stopped to think of Immortal battles lost: of Darius and Fitzcairn; of what Cullen had become in the end. He even paused for a moment for Horton who, in his own strange way, had been fighting for what he believed in.

Amanda had always gone out of her way to avoid war; it was unpleasant and it often interfered with her fun. Nonetheless, she remembered those times when war had touched her, however briefly. She recalled friends and lovers gone forever; candles that burned brighter because they burned so short. She thought also of dear Rebecca: teacher, mentor, friend and almost family; lost to that secret war that is the Game. She stood in silence as a tear, unbidden, streaked slowly down her cheek.

Methos stood still and silent, his protective layer of cynicism and self-interest momentarily suppressed. Here was the Eldest, the man who had seen it all, who remembered things that the rest of us canít even imagine. We may never know what went through his mind; he had kept so much of himself hidden for long. Did he remember the Legions of Rome, the armies of Troy, the legendary warriors of Sparta? Perhaps. Did he relive his time the Horsemen; did he silently mourn their loss? In his mind he knew they cruel and bloodthirsty and quite insane; yet in his heart they would always be his brothers.

Felicia DuChamp, born Debra Chahley, was the youngest of them all. She had no personal memories of battle, no veterans in her family, that she knew of, to mourn. Instead she paused to appreciate the freedom in which she lived today, to recall the battles that had been fought to protect that freedom. She thought of Canadian peacekeepers who, to this day, go out into places that are fighting for those freedoms, or where freedom may never have been known before.

With the eyes of a new Immortal, she looked to the future, praying that someday she may live in a world where war is only ever seen in remembrance.

Slowly, as if not to disturb the moment, she opened the small book and began to read

IN FLANDERS 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.


(In Flanders Fields was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD, a Canadian soldier. It was inspired by the battle of Ypres in 1915, and by the wild poppies he saw drifting across the battlefield. It is one of the best known war poems, and an unforgettable part of every Remembrance Day ceremony.)

Thank you for reading thisÖ LEST WE FORGET

 
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