Where Poppies Grow

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

I was driving in to town at noon when the nation paused for two minutes of silence to mark Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day for you Americans.

Though 9/11 revived the near blunted American interest in honoring war dead, Canadians appear to have never truly forgotten. Poppies proliferate on jackets in the week before the statutory holiday and the day itself is one where many businesses close, cities and towns stage elaborate parades and/or memorial services and school children have the day off to encourage participation.

Silence was broken by a man reciting the John McCrae poem, In Flanders Fields, which is the inspiration for the poppies we wear and should remove immediately after ceremonies are through – I only learned that today. The poppies should be discarded and new ones purchased every year to ensure that money will be raised for the various organizations that support our veterans and their families.

After the poem and a bit of patriotic music that surely must have baffled the teenage demographic that listens to this pop station (I am likely its lone middle-age listener, a lingering side-effect of all the years I spent teaching pre-teens no doubt), the dj followed up with this:

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

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