Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are you wearing your poppy today?

Poppies are worn every year as an act of remembrance to fallen soldiers at war. Do you know why?

The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem “In Flanders Fields”. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare. A Frenchwoman, E. GuĂ©rin, introduced the widely used artificial poppies given out today. Some people choose to wear white poppies, which emphasises a desire for peaceful alternatives to military action.

In Flanders Fields John McCrae Written May 2, 1915, Flanders, Belgium 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.

McCrae was not satisfied with the poem, and he threw it away, but another officer retrieved it and sent it to several publications in England. "Punch" magazine published the poem in December of that year. “In Flanders Fields” was a huge success almost immediately, and it was reprinted in newspapers across the world, inspiring soldiers and touching the hearts of patriots at home. In 1917 the Canadian government used “In Flanders Fields” in its advertisements for Victory Loan Bonds, with incredible success: the bonds raised $400 million for the war effort. The poem was also credited with arousing American support for the war. The United States entered World War I in April of 1917, and by the end of 1918, the Central Powers were forced to admit defeat.

It is Canadian tradition to wear the poppy during the two weeks prior to November 11. We observe 2-minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month because that was the time, in Britain, when the armistice became effective.

Lest we forget.


Donna said...

I got goosebumps watching that video.
Yesterday I was in the same situation as the cashier in the video and I was shaking with the anger I felt at the customer's lack of respect. We only observe a minute's silence here in Australia, which is even more of a pittance of time, yet he couldn't wait one single minute to pay for his bottle of Coke and chocolate bar!
Thank you for posting this to your blog and for the reminder of those who passed before us, for us and our freedoms.

MidniteScrapper said...

Great post. I love the poem and have had my children (and past classes) memorize it.