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FF Sparks (Casual)

[General] Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans Day

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.

--Lt. Col. John McCrae, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, May 3, 1915 (World War I)

Whether or not you agree with the war (I'm sure everyone knows I do not), remember today to honor the men and women who serve their countries far from home, and too often come home to little thanks.

If you see a homeless veteran -- and there are far too many around -- on the streets near your supermark, buy them a nice warm meal at the deli inside or something similar. $5-6 for a bag of warm chicken strips or a bowl of hot noodles is such a small price to repay a part of their service.


At 11/11/2008 11:01, I just have to say, I always take issue with the last verse.

And it's a good day to push the new administration to take care of all the people who have served, no matter their reason, no matter the war.

I admit I'm not as fond of the last verse myself, though at the time (World War I), the verse was arguably somewhat justified. I actually like the three stanzas in reply by some anonymous poet years later better as an ending. (No, this isn't John Mitchell's famous reply to In Flanders Fields, nor R.W. Lillard's one that I like so much.)

OH you who sleep in Flanders fields-
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw,
And holding high we kept the faith with
Those who died.

We cherish too the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders fields.

AND now the torch and poppy red
We wear in honor of our dead
Fear naught that ye have died for naught
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders fields.

But regardless, when quoting McCrae's poem it seems only fair to quote the entire thing in the original form.

EDIT: Huh... a brief search seems to turn up that the stanzas I've always seen as anonymous were a reply written in remembrance by an American woman named Moina Michael.

Edited at 2008-11-11 07:13 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, my absolute favorite reply, written years later, is by Don Crawford; he wrote "Why Wear a Poppy" in the 1960's, after Armistice Day had become Remembrance Day to honor WWII veterans as well. By then, the poppies of McCrae's poem were well-established as the symbol for those who've given their lives in service.

This one always makes me cry, though.

"Please wear a poppy," the lady said
And held one forth, but I shook my head.
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.

A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on care-free feet.
His smile was full of joy and fun,
"Lady," said he, "may I have one?"
When she's pinned it on he turned to say,
"Why do we wear a poppy today?"

The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered, "This is Remembrance Day,
And the poppy there is the symbol for
The gallant men who died in war.
And because they did, you and I are free -
That's why we wear a poppy, you see.

"I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird he would race about.
As the years went by he learned and grew
and became a man - as you will, too.

"He was fine and strong, with a boyish smile,
But he'd seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out and he went away.
I still remember his face that day
When he smiled at me and said, Goodbye,
I'll be back soon, Mom, so please don't cry.

"But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the awful fight,
(I can see it still in my dreams at night),
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.

"Till at last, at last, the war was won -
And that's why we wear a poppy son."
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said, "Thanks, lady, I'm glad to know.
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son - did he come back all right?"

A tear rolled down each faded check;
She shook her head, but didn't speak.
I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me you'd have done the same;
For our thanks, in giving, if oft delayed,
Though our freedom was bought - and thousands paid!

And so when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne,
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country's call
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy! Remember - and give!
Our grade 7's dramatized this one at the assembly yesterday. It always makes me cry, too :(