Poppies in November

In honour of all who have served. Happy Remembrance Day!

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the United States.

For my American pals, the month of November in Canada is filled with poppies. Most every individual you pass on the street or in the workplace or at the grocery has a poppy pinned to his or her lapel. The peppy blossom was pulled from a poem written on May 3, 1915, by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, one day after McCrae witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, on a battlefield in Belgium.

Sitting at the back of an ambulance, McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields. He handed the finished piece to Sergeant Major Cyril Allinson, who was delivering mail that day. Later, Allinson would say that the poem was an exact description of the scene that lay before them. Poppies were everywhere, as they grew in profusion in Flanders in the disturbed earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried. A fitting symbol of remembrance. Hence the poppy on the lapel.

In memory of all who have served, everywhere. Thank you.

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.

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One thought on “Poppies in November

  1. gigi says:

    I appeciate this remembrance and its history. As a school-aged girl, “In Flanders Fields” was a poem we all memorized. I am thankful for McCrae’s ageless tribute to our fallen, then and now. I won’t forget. Thanks.

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