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The Red Poppy

Posted By Joe Carter On May 28, 2007 @ 1:59 am In Military | 10 Comments

In 1915, a Canadian medical officer named John McCrae published what is probably the single best- and popular poem from the First World War, “In Flanders Fields” [1]:
Red Poppy

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.

After reading this poem We Shall Keep the Faith [2]:

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

From that day on, Michael vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance. Others, inspired by the personal memorial, joined in the practice. The Poppy emblem was eventually adopted in the United States as a national memorial symbol, a reminder of those who had not returned home.
As Michael wrote, the blood of heroes truly never dies. Their sacrifices truly do live on, enriching the fertile soil of my memory, bringing forth red poppies that grow in honor of those who’ve passed on the torch.
Sleep sweet, brave comrades, until you arise anew.


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URLs in this post:

[1] “In Flanders Fields”: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/inflanders.htm

[2] We Shall Keep the Faith: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/faith.htm

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