Monday, May 28, 2012

Poppies For Remembrance

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.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD  (1872-1918)
Canadian Army   

I recall memorizing this poem when, I believe, I was in Junior High school.  I know it seems a strange choice of poems for a young girl to memorize, but I just found it very moving, somehow.  As an adult, it now has even more meaning when we observe Memorial Day every year.

I found the story behind the writing of this poem very moving, as well.  John McCrae was a poet and physician from Ontario, Canada.  In 1915, he was serving as a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade during the terrible battle of the Ypres.  On May 2, 1915, a young friend and former student, Alexis Helmer, of Ottawa, was killed by a shell burst.  Lt. Helmer was buried later that day in the small cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station.  In the absence of a chaplain, McCrae performed the funeral ceremony himself.

The next day, May 3, 1915, McCrae was sitting on the back of an ambulance, when he was moved to write this famous poem.  He noted how the wild poppies grew around the graves of those who had died at Ypres, and he wrote down these fifteen lines in a notebook.  He then gave the notebook to a fellow soldier, Sergent Major Cyril Allison, who later convinced McCrae to send it in for publication.  "In Flanders Fields" was first published by London-based magazine, Punch, on December 8, 1915.

The poem's references to the red poppies resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming such a recognized symbol for soldiers who have died in battle.

Flanders Field American Cemetery, containing the graves of 368 Americans, is located in Waregem, Belgium.  It is the smallest of eight permanent American cemeteries commemorating World War I in Europe.

Thanks for visiting House at Forest Manor.

May God Bless Our Military Men and Women and Our Nation



  1. I knew the poem but never knew the story behind it! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    We are not free without these brave men and women! God bless their souls!

  2. I have always loved that poem but never knew the history behind it...Thank you so much for telling us the story behind the poem....I loved it....May God be with our fallen heroes!

  3. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing the history. God Bless our troops.

  4. Thank you for telling us the story of the poem Denise, it is very moving. It is quite right to remember all those that gave their lives in dreadful wars all over the world.

    Thank you also for you comments on my post :o)
    You ask if I will be watching any of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations? To be honest you'd have to be deaf and dumb to ignore it! Our village has events all over the four days of weekend and bank holidays, and as our daughter will be here on a visit I'm certain we'll be attending some of them ;O) I doubt I shall be stuck in front of the TV though to watch events unfold in London.
    Hope you have a good week. Sending best wishes,
    Rose H

  5. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post. I love that poem too. It's a favorite of my mom's. She always recites it when you show up on Memorial Day. (She loves to recite poetry.)

    My husband's great uncle is actually buried in Flanders Field. He's the uncle of the man in the photo I took at Arlington for my MD post. It was always such a great source of pride for him to tell people that.

  6. I've heard/read parts of the poem, but never the whole thing. Thank you for sharing. It's very interesting and beautiful. God bless our troops.



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