Memorial Day Tribute

In Flanders Fields

by Lt. Col. John McCrae

 In Flanders Fields the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row, 

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard among 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 fallen 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. 

On the Flanders front in the early spring of 1915, when World War 1 had settled down to trench fighting, two of the most noticeable features of the field were, the luxuriant growth of red poppies that appeared among the graves of the fallen soldiers, and the larks, that remained on the field during the fighting. As soon as the cannonading ceased, the birds would rise in the air, singing.

Lt. Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician serving in WW 1, wrote the poem on May 3, 1915, as he sat on the back of a medical field ambulance just north of Ypres, Belgium. His friend and fellow militia member, Lt. Alexis Helmer, had been killed the day before. 

Each Memorial Day, when I see artificial red poppies being sold by the American Legion, I take a flower and give a donation to support the veterans, active -duty military personnel and their families with financial and medical needs. The deep red poppies remind me, as they are meant to, of the blood shed by men and women who fought our nation’s wars on our behalf. 

Poet, John McCrae died of pneumonia in January 1918, but has lived on for over 100 years because of his poem, a perfect reminder that wakes us up every year, when Memorial Day appears before us.

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