Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran's Day in the United States, and on the 11th hour of this day, Canadians stood in silence remember their fallen soldiers, men and women who died for our security and freedom, men and women that died for the security of other countries they were sent to protect from harm. The Poppy has been our symbol of remembrance since 1921, seven years after Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Fields..." was published on December 8th, 1915 in England.
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.
- Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, 1872-1918
His poem speaks of Flanders fields, but the subject is universal – the fear of the dead that they will be forgotten, that their death will have been in vain. I for one wear my poppy proudly, remembering their sacrifice they made so that I can live in this beautiful country without fear, in a world that is more secure because of their sacrifices in the world Wars, and also for those currently dying around the world today for our security.
An American teacher, Moina Michael read John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" and she immediately made "a personal pledge to keep the faith and vowed always to wear a red
poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance and as an emblem for keeping the faith with all who died".
Two years later, during a 1920 visit to the United States, a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France, she decided to use handmade Poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. Following the example of Madame Guerin, the Great War Veterans' Association in Canada (the predecessor of The Royal Canadian Legion) officially adopted the Poppy as its Flower of Remembrance on 5 July 1921.
Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear the Legion's lapel Poppy each November, including myself and countless others, the little red plant has never died. And neither have Canadian's memories for those that have died in battle back then, and now. They stand united as Canadians sharing a common history of sacrifice and commitment.
Never forget those that have sacrificed their lives for you...
In Flanders fields the poppies blow...