In Flander’s Fields

ross g strachan poppiesWhile considering Memorial Day, the first thing that always comes to mind is a poem my mother had hanging inside of a cupboard door when I was growing up. “In Flander’s Fields,” by physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, is the most famous poem to emerge from World War I. Macrae was moved to write the poem after presiding over the burial of his good friend Alexis Helmer during the second battle of Ypres. As a result of the popular poem, remembrance poppies have become an international symbol for memorializing soldiers who have died in battle.

Between October 1914 and the August 1917, British and Commonwealth soldiers marched east out of the Belgian town of Ypres onto the battlefield of Ypres Salient. Over 90,000 of the soldiers that fell in these fields were buried anonymously in makeshift graves, and have never been found or identified. Four memorials have been erected to honor these soldiers, one of the better known being The Menin Gate Memorial.

“In Flander’s Fields” is a fitting tribute to all of the world’s soldiers from one of their own. We should perhaps also take this day to remember all of the victims of war, regardless of allegiance or nationality. Although the last stanza is a call to arms, the torch could also be taken up to promote peace and someday reduce the number of poppies in the 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.

Sources:

www.greatwar.co.uk, wikipedia, www.arlingtoncemetary.net

Photo of poppies by Ross G Strachan via Flickr 

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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