Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lest We Forget

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


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem "In Flanders Field," wasn't the first soldier to make a connection between a barren battlefield in Europe that exploded in red poppies after the fighting was over. When the First World War ended the lime was absorbed and the poppy disappeared.

Although Lt.-Col McCrae had been a surgeon for many years, the horror of his time in Ypres never left him. After the battle at Ypres, he wrote:
"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."
It was after this relentless battle that he sat at the back of an ambulance and pour out the anguish in his heart. Believing he couldn't adequately express what it was he saw, he tossed the poem away. A fellow officer picked it up and later sent it to a publisher in England. It was rejected. Punch published it on December 8, 1915.
The first person to wear a poppy in memory of those who died was American Moina Michael. Two years later Madame Guerin, on her return to France, decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for orphaned French children. The first poppies appeared in Canada November 1921.

Canada lost 116,031 soldiers in the Great War. Every November since, we wear the poppy to remember those soldiers and the soldiers who died in Korea, World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia, and the war in Afghanistan. The red scarlet poppy represents the blood of those soldiers who fought for our peace and freedom.

My family and I also wear a poppy in honour of our son, who is currently serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Stay safe, Cory.


  1. Good thoughts to keep in mind. Add my best wishes for Cory and all those serving their countries.

  2. thanks, Keith. Will do. Spoke to Cory a few moments ago. He says he's doing well. Not much going on except work, sleep, work, sleep.

  3. War is such a frustrating phenomenon. History seems to go in circles and we never end up any wiser, despite all the sacrifice. It's good to stop and remember. I'll add Cory to my prayers.

  4. Thank you, Careann. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude. Have a safe Remembrance Day.


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