Memorial Day Over the Years by Calvin Davis

In Flanders Fields

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

Inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”

Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. (1)
Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery (source: A Crown of Life)

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2ndMay, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The Story Behind the Remembrance Poppy

One of the first material poppies sold in aid of The Haig Fund .
Haig Fund Poppy

Also known as “The Poppy Lady” find out how this poem inspired the American teacher, Moina Belle Michael, to write a poem in response to “In Flanders Fields”. Discover how she and Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guérin, known as “The French Poppy Lady”, encouraged people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war, and how the Flanders Poppy became the symbol of remembrance that we know so well today:

THANK YOU TO ALL THE SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SACRIFICE SO MUCH AND, IN MANY CASES, NEVER HEAL FROM THE HELLS OF WAR. 

2 Comments

Filed under writing

2 responses to “Memorial Day Over the Years by Calvin Davis

  1. Thank you giving us this background. The poem and all it stands for continue to inspire and haunt us.

  2. Thank you, Calvin, for the fitting reminder. Hear! Hear!

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