Remembering Veterans this Memorial Day - In Flanders Fields

Submitted by Bubbling Spring... on May 21, 2020 - 3:33pm

The tradition of wearing a single red poppy on Memorial Day to commemorate soldiers who have lost their lives in combat has its origin in this famous poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3rd of 1915.

Dr. McCrae's friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, had been killed a day earlier in the Second Battle of Ypres in World War 1. McCrae was a field surgeon when he wrote the poem, looking out over a war torn Belgium field that was being used as a British first aid station and burial ground for Allied troops, including Lt. Helmer. The mixed up earth around the fresh graves gave bloom to the crimson red flowers. They are a poignant symbol of ruggedness and vulnerability, of blood spilled and young lives cut short.

The American Legion distributes poppies to promote remembrance of the fallen and to support veterans on National Poppy Day, which occurs annually on the Friday before Memorial Day.

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.

To learn more check out In Flanders fields : the story of the poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, other books here, and another YouTube video on the poem here.

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