In Flander’s Field
by John McCrae
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.
This week, outside of the Delmar Post Office, veterans were distributing poppies. I appreciated this sight from my childhood that is fast disappearing as more of our older veterans die each year. According to vfw.org, the poppies were introduced in 1922. They were assembled and sold by disabled veterans who needed work. The poppy’s significance comes from the famous poem Flander’s Field by John McCrea who was moved to write about all those who died in World War I and are now buried amidst the beautiful poppy fields in France.
As our older veterans age, and time puts more distance between these events, it becomes easy to lose track of the meaning behind the traditions. The meaning behind Memorial Day is also easy to forget as we prepare to kick off summer. Memorial Day was established after the Civil War and was called Decoration Day because people decorated the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington Cemetery with flowers. The parades are meant to be somber and respectful and we are all asked to remember those who made the sacrifice for us and our country.
While I believe it is critical to take time to reflect on those who served and died, I believe it also sends a much needed message to our living service members, veterans, and their families. When we take the time to show our respect for those who died, we are also letting those who came home, and their families, know that we appreciate their service, their sacrifice – and for our young veterans today – that we appreciate that they made the choice to serve. It reminds them that we are truly grateful. We must hold onto to these traditions so that we always remember. No matter how much time passes, we must promise not to forget those we lost and to do all we can to support those who return home!
To learn more about the history of Memorial Day you can visit http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html