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 your 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.
-John McCrae, 1915
During World War I, Major John McCrae was a young Canadian military doctor and artillery commander. He served in the same artillery unit as his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, in the Second Battle of Ypres.
In 1915, McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for his friend, as the chaplain was attending other serious matters on the battlefield.
After laying his body to rest, overwhelmed by the death of his friend, McCrae’s heart poured out the moving poem we now know as “Flanders Fields”.
It gave us the red poppy to remind us that peace will continue, even after the entire world is at war:
In British Commonweath Nations, “…Remembrance Day (sometimes known informally as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.”
While in the United States, we know it as Veterans Day. “[F]ormerly known as Armistice Day, [Veterans Days] was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.”
If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.
― Michael Crichton
Every soldier holds a story in history, and each poppy is our way of remembering, and respecting, their stories.
There are always new things to learn about days we celebrate. For instance, Veteran’s day was originally “Armistice Day,” as November 11, 1918 was the day when WWI ended. As years went by, Congress made the honorable decision to change the day to “Veteran’s Day” in order to honor every man and woman who have served our great country.