Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 11th.

The armistice that ended World War I was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.


Whether you call it Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Veteran's Day, many western countries set aside November 11th to remember those who fought and died, that you and I might live in peace.  I am not here to debate whether those wars were just, or true, or whether they happened for the right or wrong reasons.


I simply wish to acknowledge those who fought and died for a future they would never see, and pay tribute to that sacrifice with this famous Canadian poem:


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 McRae


Our friends at Wikipaedia tell us:

"McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way." Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance."

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful and moving poem. Thanks for this tribute to all those who fought and died for a better future. May they be remembered always.

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  2. A very lovely and thoughtful tribute.

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    1. Thank you. I've always loved that poem.

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  3. A poignant poem to honor those who sacrificed so much during such a dark moment in history. Thank you for sharing it, Sybil.

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    1. There's not a school child in Canada who has not been taught it Barbara. It's very much a part of our way of Remembering ... it's the reason we have the poppy as a symbol.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. Honoring those who fought and died...but also wishing we might some day live in a world where wars are no longer necessary.

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    1. It' quite the contradiction isn't it Kathy ? I wanted to strike that balance. Is the poem "Flanders Fields" well known in the U.S. or i it just a Canadian thing ?

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    2. I'm probably the wrong person to ask, ahem, since I forget most of everything, but am thinking it's more of a Canadian thing.

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Thanks for stopping by. I really do love to read your comments.