We Remember

Today, we remember.  We remember sacrifices made and lives lost.  We celebrate courage and bravery.  We practice gratitude for our remarkably free lives.

We also remember those innocent lives lost – the victims of war.  Those legions of men, women and children not in uniform.  We remember those who toiled in support of the war effort, and those who waited at home for loved ones with trembling hands and hearts.

We remember those who fought on the front lines and those who fought in the shadows.

And those who fight still.

The poppy is our symbol of remembrance – our tremulous link to a shocking past. Pinned on our breast, we wear it with pride and with trepidation.  We gather once a year to honour all those brave souls who risked it all, but also to prevent a history that repeats itself.  As if by gathering at a cenotaph each year, we can ward off the demons of war, by standing together as one, a united front of peaceful intentions.

So, for me, Remembrance Day is not only a remembering of all those that fought, but a remembering of all that we wish to gain.  And that red poppy we so proudly wear? It’s a symbol of hope as much as loss: of what we could be, of what is possible, of what is necessary.

In Flanders Fields

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

Scare 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.

John McCrae

A brief history of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance: Inspired by the red poppies that stubbornly grew over the war torn fields of Flanders, Belguim, Canadian field surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel John Alexander McCrae wrote his famous poem 100 years ago.  In 1918 an American woman, Moina Belle Michael, read the poem and was so moved by it’s message of keeping the faith that she came up with the idea of wearing a red poppy as a way of remembering all those who died.  But it was a French woman by the name of Madame Anna E. Guerin who took the symbol of the poppy worldwide.  Today, millions of poppies are worn in Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and in 120 other countries worldwide.

I love this response to In Flanders Fields that I found while doing research, written by Moina Belle Michael:

We shall keep the faith  

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All 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 not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields we fought.

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