honoring, memorial day, remembering

Memorial Day

The symbol of this thoughtful and somber holiday is the field poppy. This flower’s seeds can lie dormant in the ground for many years, but if the ground is disturbed the seeds will often germinate and the poppy flowers will grow. This is what occurred on and around the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli after the brutal battles of WWI.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The poppy became a symbol of loss of life as well as rebirth and was commemorated with two poems one by John Flanders, a Canadian soldier, in 1915 and one in 1918 by Moina Michael.

In Flanders Fields”

by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

“We Shall Keep the Faith”

by Moina Michael, November 1918

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.

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