Monday, May 30, 2011


In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

During the Second Battle of Ypres (before the Americans had even joined the war, but hundreds of thousands of French, English and Canadian soldiers had died) a Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2 May, 1915 by an exploding shell. He was a friend of the Canadian military doctor Major John McCrae.

John was asked to conduct the burial service owing to the chaplain being called away on duty elsewhere. It is believed that later that evening John began the draft for his famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'. This poem made poppies a symbol of remembrance.

Memorial Day is much more than just a three day weekend, a chance to grill or the start of summer. Pause to remember how much you have to be grateful for--because of men and women who gave up their future to ensure you would have a bright one.

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