Why the Poppies??



Photo by John Owen

Why are little red poppies handed out to shoppers in the mall or Wal-Mart, commemorating honour this time of year to U.S. and Canadian veterans?  What do poppies have to do with war veterans?  The symbolism is derived from one of the most famous war-inspired poems of the 20th century.  The poem may be more familiar to my Canadian friends, because it was written by a Canadian Army officer and is quoted on their $10 bill. 

Major John McCrae, a doctor and 1st Lieutenant in the Canadian Army during World War I, treated the wounded and dying on the gruesome battlefield of Ypres, France, in 1915.  Shortly after witnessing the loss of a dear friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, Ontario, his eyes wandered to the battlefield, brimming with red poppies and the remains of many dead.  He wrote the following poem in response:

               In Flanders Field

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.

Now you know..

Please remember our veterans today.  Pray for all the servicemembers in Iraq, Afghanistan, on ships at sea, and around the globe, for their safety, their success, and their salvation.  May God’s grace and mercy continue to be a beacon in our country, and may our freedom to share our hope in Jesus Christ never be lost.  Thank a veteran for your freedoms, without neglecting to give thanks and praise for the lovingkindness of our Father.

Remember the poppies…and the Cross.

4 thoughts on “Why the Poppies??

  1. Thanks for remembering and praying for our veterans. Many years ago, the poem you quoted was read routinely in our schools. Is it still read, or is it now politically incorrect?

    Linda, the Cross is the symbol of the ultimate sacrifice, and we are a blessed nation because of it. I thank God for those men and women who have served to protect and defend our country.

  2. Thanks or the comment! I don’t know many Americans familiar with this poem. I didn’t learn about it until a few years ago in an upper-level English course!

    My husband and I are both veterans, and really appreciate your thankfulness. We have a nephew and know a couple of other young men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at sea. They make us proud–not only by their service, but by their love for country and positive attitudes about doing what is right! Reminds me of my dad and the “greatest” (WW2) generation, who served because it was ‘the right thing to do.’

    Blessings! Linda

  3. Thanks for the comment! It’s really great to hear from you–taking care of kids is such a full time job so I know the precious time it must take to read and comment! Love and prayers, Linda

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