Memorial Day weekend…

‘In Flanders Fields’ is a poem that was written in 1915 by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to honor a soldier friend of his, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who had been killed in battle. The poem was also the inspiration for the use of the poppy to honor and remember those who have died in war, which, after all, is the true meaning of Memorial Day.

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
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 Field.
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 Field.

LTC McCrae died in 1918 in France. There were several poems that were penned by individuals in honor of McCrae’s poem. One was titled ‘America’s Answer’ by R. W. Lillard.

America’s Answer

Rest in peace, ye Flanders dead. The fight that you so bravely led
We’ve taken up. And we will keep true faith with you who lie asleep
With each a cross to mark his bed, and poppies blowing overhead,
When once his own life-blood ran red. So let your rest be sweet and deep
In Flanders Fields.
Fear not that ye have died for naught; the torch ye threw to us we caught,
Ten million hands will hold it high, and freedom’s light shall never die!
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders Field

The poppies ended up growing in the now named Poppy Valley at Gallipoli too…


Memorial Day weekend… — 13 Comments

  1. Saw a display concerning him, at Eilean Doonan castle. A gentleman asked why a Canadian was in the display, all I could say was “In Flanders Fields.” So many brave men …

  2. I did not know that there were response poems to “In Flanders Fields.” Thank you for introducing me to something that would have been nice if my teachers had.

  3. CP- Agreed

    PK- I didn’t know that, but I agree!

    Grog- Amen

    Beans- I’m surprised. We were taught that in high school.

  4. Here’s another. We had a moving tribute to the fallen at church this morning, and I brought this up in order to share it with others.
    I find the fourth verse speaks most powerfully to me.

    For the Fallen
    With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
    England mourns for her dead across the sea.
    Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
    Fallen in the cause of the free.

    Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
    Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
    There is music in the midst of desolation
    And a glory that shines upon our tears.

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
    They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
    They sleep beyond England’s foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end, they remain.

  5. WSF- That it was, and the ANZACs remember it every year.

    Pat- Thanks, I hadn’t seen that one.

    Ed- Concur. THank you.

  6. I am not surprised I wasn’t taught it. Already in my schooling, ending in 1982, it was evident of a strong leftist rewrite. The change came about 4th grade. One year the school books made sense, the next year they said the opposite of what they said the previous year.

    Bastige commie leftist bastiges.

  7. Thank you to those who have served and moved on ~ in m 70’s I am attending funerals at a regular pace saying good bye to friends who were old warriors, several decades ago I would return to my home town to be a pall bearer for friends of parents, men who served in WWII and their wives and the honor of having an American Flag on the casket. Now it is my friends, Viet Nam war era folks and the honor of having an American Flag and I tell my kids that having a soldier grave marker and our family receive an American flag from our nation is a family thing and it is good. Thank you for remembering ‘In Flanders Fields’