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Monday, May 28, 2018

Happy Memorial Day - In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

Happy Memorial Day
From Pixlebay
Growing up I can remember the nice men at the doors of Shopko and Kmart handing out tiny red paper flowers.  I felt sad when my mother told me it was to show that we remember the people who died saving our country.  This symbol of sacrifice has been a part of Memorial Day ever since I can remember.  But as an adult I was curious to when did we first start associating the poppy with this special day and why?

This beautiful symbol is not just exclusive to the U.S. it is an international symbol of remembrance and used worldwide.  

It started when a doctor, John McCrae, while serving in World War I was inspired to write a poem. He wrote In Flanders Fields as he was witnessed scene on the landscape of Flanders.  The poppy was the first flowers that would grow and bloom in the freshly disturbed soil of the soldiers graves. 

Later in 1918 Moina Michael campaigned to make the poppy the official symbol for those soldiers who died serving to protect our country.  She wrote 'And now the Torch and Poppy Red, we wear in honor of our dead…'  It was in 1921 in Britain that they first sold artificial poppies to generate funds to support ex-servicemen.  It was successful and so it led to the British Legion obtaining a factory for production which was staffed by ex-servicemen in 1922.  This factory still produces poppies today.

Of course since Memorial Day is when we recognize our servicemen and servicewomen that is when we are accustomed to seeing these artificial poppies.  However as we know now this symbol expands much further than this one day and this country.

This information is from IWM at https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/why-we-wear-poppies-on-remembrance-day  There is much more information and details if you visit their link.

The following poem was found on the Poetry Foundation at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47380/in-flanders-fields

In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE

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.
************************************

Thank you for your service and dedication

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