A man is not dead until he is forgotten. . . . NEVER FORGET!
In Flanders Fields - The Poem
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918) Canadian Army
(About the Poem and Author)
The Anxious Dead - Another Poem by John McCrae
Glenn Miller: Over There.wav
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.
About The Poem - In Flanders Fields
The poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian army physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872 - January 28, 1918 - picture left) 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. World War 1.
A question asked again and again: why poppies?
Poppy seed will lie in the ground for years if the soil is undisturbed. That churned up cemetery known as the Western Front provided the ideal medium for masses of poppies to blanket the graves. When McCrae wrote his poem, in May 1915, bloodred poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before or probably ever will again.
The poppy is also well known as a symbol of sleep. The last line in his poem "We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields".
Opium, from which morphine can be made, is derived from some species of poppies. Morphine is a very strong painkiller and was given to wounded soldiers to help them sleep. A much larger dose was given to those who could not survive, helping to end their misery.
As well as performing his duties as surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel McCrae also served on the guns when needed and occasionally performed burial services. It was after performing the service for a very dear friend, Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, that McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields. The poem was written May 3, 1915 and first published in Punch that same year.
I can remember as a child, November 11th was a day of mourning and of celebration. At 11 AM sharp, EVERYODY stopped what they were doing, stood and bowed their heads in silent prayer and thanksgiving. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated -- After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed and the "war to end all wars" was over.
We still recognize this day and pay tribute to the millions of young men and women who have carried the "torch" throughout the generations and numerous wars. I pray that we are strong and wise enough to catch the torch and carry it through to the next generation so our brave may rest peacefully and our nations remain free.
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