November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day in Canada

It's Remembrance Day in Canada -- Veteran's Day in the US. The poppy campaign has been going on for a couple of weeks here. Poppies are everywhere. The recognition starts well before the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. 

Why do we wear poppies on Remembrance Day?
The poppy worn on Remembrance Day is the red-corn poppy, which grows abundantly in Europe, including Flanders Fields.
'In Flanders Fields' is a poem, written by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3, 1915, and was written about the small red flowers growing on the battlefields of France amongst the death and blood from the men who died fighting for their country.

This is because the corn poppy was one of the only plants that grew on the battlefield. It thrives in disturbed soil, which was abundant on the battlefield due to intensive shelling. During the few weeks the plant blossomed, the battlefield was coloured blood red, not just from the red flower that grew in great numbers but also from the actual blood of the dead soldiers that lay scattered and untended to on the otherwise barren battlegrounds.

The poem and the poppy, have now become iconic symbols of both the World Wars, and now plastic versions are sold prior to Remembrance Day to remember those who died.

The poem:

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.

- John McCrae

Thanks to our friends and family members who have served in the military.

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