Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Like most of my generation, my grandfather served during the second World War. He wrote a little about non-combat military experiences and shared a few stories about people that he'd met but anything do with the violent core of the conflict were things he never discussed. Remembrance Day was probably the most important day of the year to him and we would all agree that it was his favourite. Never was this more apparent than the year he suffered his aneurysm. The first event occurred in the summer and took away most of his memory and physical power. The second occurred late in the fall and we all braced ourselves for the worst. He hung on quietly and then on the morning of November 11th, he died. We smiled at the date despite the loss and found a little closure while we reflected on the meaning of peace.

Later that week, my aunt discovered an envelop containing more than thirty poppy pins collected year after year. At his funeral, I can't recall a single person not wearing one.

In honour of the first Great War and the armistice signed on November 11th, 1918; of the soldiers of all nations that have served before, since and currently serving; of a history we should never forget; and of my grandfather, I'd like to share the poem written by a doctor who did not survive that first world conflict. It is still recited by school children every year on this date and the reason the poppy is the symbol of Remembrance.

In Flanders Fields
Lt.Col John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

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.

1 comment:

  1. I love In Flanders Fields. Do you know there are replies to In Flanders Fields? Some are better than others;)



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