Sunday, November 11

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields
Written by John McCrae

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.

Some of the bloodiest battles of World War I took place in the areas of northern France and southwest Belgium known as Flanders and Picardy. The British front line was determined to keep the Germans from traversing Flanders and the Ypres river valley to reach the port of Calais. Troops from both sides were holed up in the Ypres salient, an outward projection of the battle line. Defending British troops were vulnerable on three sides; therefore this was a bloody and dangerous place for a soldier to be. The destruction from the battles in this area reached beyond the battlefield to the towns and roads of the area, and led to the demolition of buildings, roads, and all plant life, leaving only mud.

John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. One of the most asked questions is: why poppies? The answer is simple: poppies are the only flower when everything else in the neighbourhood is dead. Poppy seeds can lie on the ground for years and years until there are no more competing flowers or shrubs in the vicinity, or until the ground becomes uprooted.

There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front; in fact the whole front consisted of churned up soil. So in May 1915, when McCrae wrote his poem, around him poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before. In Flanders Fields is also the name of an American War Cemetery in Flanders. This burial place, near the village of Waregem, has taken its name from McCrae's (Canadian) poem. The bronze foot of the flag-staff is decorated with daisies and poppies.

November 11, observed in the United States in honor of veterans of the armed services and in commemoration of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. In 1954 it was renamed from Armistice Day and given the added significance of honoring veterans.

Take some time this year to honor all the soldiers who have died on the ground, in the air, and at sea and show your patriotism to those who have fought or are still fighting for our freedom today.

Some Gave All


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. I put pictures on my blogs, but didn't write. Too hard. Cool about the poppies, isn't it? It's all just nature taking its course, I know, but it seems so beautifully symbolic.

Keziah Fenton said...

Beautiful. Thank you.