Sunday, May 30, 2010

Red Poppies

This Memorial Day weekend we had an after church, indoor picnic. I'm on the fellowship committee in charge of such occasions.  We decided to center the tables with some red, white and blue placemats I use on the 4th of July.  One member suggested we also include red poppies, if she could locate some.  She did, at a local VFW post.  In our childhood, committee members remembered that veterans used to hand out red paper poppies on the street corners of our towns, as they collected donations for the families of their fallen comrades.  We pinned the poppies to our clothes in honor of these veterans.

The Memorial Day poppies tradition started with a poem written by a Canadian Army colonel during WWI.  Colonel John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" was first published in December, 1915, in the British magazine Punch.  Two women from Georgia , impressed by the poem, began selling paper poppies in order to help orphans or others impoverished at the end of the war.  Eventually the Veterans of Foreign Wars made the Memorial Day poppy official.  Below is the McCrae's poem.

In Flander's 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 Flander's 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 Flander's fields.


  1. I love that poem and I remember in the mid-80s in London, people were still out with the poppies every year. I don't think they forgot, so grateful they were. As we all are. Glad you provided that special cake along with finding the poppies. Kudos for research and remembrance.

  2. Wonderful "Remembrance," Alice. I haven't seen the poppies given out on this day in years, It's good to know the reason for the poppies and to think about the sacrifices given.