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.
– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders Fields was composed by a Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, on May 3, 1915 at the battlefront during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium.
Recited by children and adults alike, it is an essential part of most Remembrance Day ceremonies. It commemorates those lost in combat, who died for the freedom of their family, friends, peers, and country, and the liberty of future generations.
The History of Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance observed in the Commonwealth since the end of the first World War. In 1931, the Canadian federal parliament amended the Armistice Day Act, specifying that the day would now be observed on November 11th and that it would be known as Remembrance Day. Veterans Day and Armistice Day, among others, are also commemorated on November 11 in other parts of the world.
Since that day in 1931, every November 11th we remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Ceremonies are held across the nation, on Parliament Hill, at memorials, and in schools and communities alike. We honor those who fought with the traditional two minutes of silence at 11 a.m., and follow with varying traditions, including the ringing of bells, bugling of “The Rouse”, the reading of the Act of Remembrance, reciting “In Flanders Fields”, and if appropriate, gun salutes and fly-bys by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Why Is It Important that We Remember?
The only way we can advance as a society is by learning from the past. Remembrance Day not only honors those that have lost their lives for our freedom, but it is a solemn reminder that this could happen again. With the advancement of technology, the world has gotten smaller. Wars that once were only happening in other parts of the world are now knocking on our doors. The wars today are different than those from 100 years ago, but the reasons for them are the same. Power, money, religion, resources. It’s only by remembering the past can we possibly avoid the same fate in the future.
How Do I Remember?
It’s around this time of year that I gravitate to World War I and II documentaries, which, as of late have been easier to find with advent of streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. Some are better than others, and though I could recommend a few, I believe that this is one of those areas that you need to discover on your own. I would also advise caution when watching them around children, and in only doing so when they are able to comprehend what they are viewing. What age is the right age? With kids that are almost six, four and two, I don’t yet know the answer to that question.
Ceremonies are broadcast nationwide on November 11th and our family observes the two minutes of silence at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. We also make sure to donate to the Veterans and wear a poppy in remembrance.
Remembering on Remembrance Day is good, but I strongly believe that remembering on Remembrance Day is only the start of a new year to remember. The reasons to remember are continually being added to by an ever growing list of wars, battles, and acts of violence. I can’t stress enough how important it is to remember those who’ve sacrificed their lives, limbs, memories, and more to allow us the freedoms that we have.
I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone that has made those sacrifices for me and my family, and for the freedom I experience daily. Not only thank you to those who fought, but to the wives, husbands, parents, children, and families of whom without their sacrifice, we would be living in a very different world.
How do you remember? Are there ceremonies in your communities that you attend? Have you or members of your family fought? Please leave us a comment (or use the contact page if you would like to keep your comment private). We would love to hear your stories and to say a personal thank you to those who have provided for our freedom.