In Flanders Fields

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.

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In 1915 Canadian medic Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was stationed in the European Theatre. He was stationed in an area known as Flanders Fields, the vast fields that straddled both West and East Flanders, Belgium and a chunk of land that was known as French Flanders due to its proximity to the Belgian sites.

McCrae had just buried one of his fellow soldiers, after the Second Battle of Ypres; when he sat down to compose the poem “In Flanders Fields”. In the poem he depicts the scene he sees on the battlefield, rows of crosses and unmarked graves scattered with vivid red poppies. The poem is also a call to arms, and became a motivational recruiting tool in both North America and in Great Brittan.

The poem was published in December 1915 in a magazine called Punch, at least 6 weeks after McCrae wrote it. The poem became an instant success and was translated into many different languages and disseminated across the world.

McCrae died the same year the war ended, 1918. American professor Moina Michael heard about his passing, and pledged to wear a red poppy every day to honor his legacy and the legacy of all those who had served in the war. She started giving her friends red silk poppies, starting the tradition of poppies as a symbol of commemoration.

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