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“Flanders Fields” and Red Poppies: A Still to this Day Powerful Poem and a Symbol of Remembrance

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

The rondeau poem “Flanders Fields” is still today a powerful poem when quoted or read aloud at any war memorial, ceremony or remembrance-day celebration today as it was just after it was written in 1915 during WWI.

“Flanders Fields” is a war time poem written during WWI by a Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) John McCrae after he presided over the funeral of his friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who died in the Second Battle of the Ypres near the Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium in 1915. The Flanders area spans both southern Belgium and north-west France. The wild red poppies that grow naturally in Flanders was a part of the inspiration written into this classic poem about the red poppies that grew over the graves of the Great Wars dead “We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields”.

This poems reference to the little red poppy resulted in the remembrance poppy coming to be. Today the red poppy / remembrance poppy is one of the world's most recognized memorial symbols for all soldiers that have died on battlefields both distant and far in war throughout the Common Wealth countries such as the UK, and Canada to Australia and even to a lesser degree Veterans Day and Memorial Day remembrances in the United States.

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.

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