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Freedom, Peace and Poppies at the Remembrance Day

By Zanna Linskaia

Every year on November 11 we observe the Memorial Day since the end of the

First World War to honor soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives to serve

Canada in the battles between Germany and countries of Entente. It is tradition to

wear a red poppy flower on the cloths during Remembrance days. How does it

come that red poppy became the symbol of both Remembrance and hope for

freedom and peace?

During the WWI Canadian John McCrae who served as brigade surgeon for artillery

unit saw poppies in the spring after the battle of Ypres where he was wounded

while Germans used lethal chlorine gas for the first time in the war. 87,000 soldiers

were killed, wounded, poisoned or missed. He was struck by the sight of bright red

blooms on the broken ground. McCrae wrote a poem “In Flanders Fields”

dedicated to the fallen soldiers burred under those poppies. In 1915 “Punch”

magazine published his poem, and it became one of the most famous artwork used

at memorial ceremonies till our days.

Inspired by McCrae’s verses, professor at the university of Georgia and volunteer

of the Young Women’s Christian Association Moina Michael wrote her own poem -

“We Shall Keep Faith”. She vowed to always wear a red poppy as a sight of this

faith and a remembrance of the fallen heroes. After the war, she came up with

idea to make and sell red silk poppies in order to raise money for supporting

veterans and their families.

The same theme of the WWI gave fame to another Canadian writer Timothy

Findley. His novel “The Wars” became a bestseller and proto -type of the movie.

Now days there are many poppy campaigns and poppy funds by Royal Canadian

Legion with help to the veterans of all wars for serving their duties. Here are the

magnificent verses by Canadian hero who fought for freedom and peace of his and

the next generations.


“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row and row,

That mark our place, and in the sky


The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scare heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead, short days ago

We lived, felt down, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take our quarrel with the foe:

To you from falling hands we throw

The torch: be yours to hold it high.

If you break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies glow

In Flanders fields.


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