Monday, May 28, 2012

In Flanders Fields

I first heard the poem In Flanders Fields back in 1983. And every time those who have died for our country are honored or remembered, I recall this poem written during WWI by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (pictured right).

McCrae was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915 after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to history, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially unsatisfied with his work, discarded it. "In Flanders Fields" was first published on December 8 of that year and is the most quoted poem associated with honoring fallen soldiers.

A sobering piece about remaining faithful, about keeping diligent, and about the brevity of life, the poem is written from the point-of-view of those who have died...

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. 

If you know someone who's in the military, or perhaps know a family who's lost a loved one in service of our country, would you make a point to thank them today? I'll do the same.

An autographed copy of the poem from In Flanders Fields and Other Poems
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