In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.
The first time I heard the words to this powerful poem, my father-in-law, John Van Amburgh, was quietly quoting them from memory. He shared with me how he first heard the poem while serving overseas in the Army during WWII. The poem, written by Canadian physician, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. John McCrae in 1915, describes the haunting loss of a friend and fellow soldier who died in the Second Battle of Ypres during WWI, the war to end all wars. Dr. McCrae’s poem is one of the most quoted from the first world war, and its reference to the red poppies growing over the countless graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the Remembrance Poppy becoming a recognized memorial symbol for all soldiers lost in conflict. Poppies were considered the battlefield flower because they were the first to grow back after war destroyed the landscape.
So on this 11th hour of this 11th day of the 11th month of this year, I pause to gratefully salute Poppa Van and all who bravely gave time, talent, and service to our country. With profound gratitude we honor those living among us who served and those who currently serve, as well as their families and loved ones who courageously “crack on” during the long absences of their loved ones in service. We all know someone…so…Who will you take a moment to reach out to in gratefulness for their service? 🙂
Thank you, Beth, for recalling this powerful poem and for expressing our shared profound gratitude for those who have served or are serving now, as well as their loved ones who miss their presence. i lost a cousin in WW2, and am grateful for uncles and other cousins who served. Our landlord received a Purple Heart (and still has shrapnel imbedded in his body) for his service as a 19-year-old in Viet Nam. Janelle’s son, Brandon, is an Ensign, based at Pearl Harbor, and is assigned to the destroyer Michael Murphy, which is due for a new deployment next year. Our love to you and your family.