Last year, I had the privilege of being in the UK on Remembrance Day, and across the country, at exactly 11 a.m. (11/11/11), everyone observed two minutes of silence, the first a time of thanksgiving for those for those who had returned alive. The second minute was to remember the fallen.
There is one element that represents Remembrance Day more than any other, and that is the red poppy. Almost every citizen wears a paper remembrance poppy in the weeks leading up to the November 11, and then poppy wreaths are laid at various memorials on the day itself. A few years ago, a sea of ceramic red poppies (888,246—the number of colonial lives lost in the first world war) were planted outside the Tower of London. Perhaps you had seen pictures. It was both breath-taking and moving.
The symbolic remembrance poppy grew out of the poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae at the battlefront on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium.
Here it is below if you have never read it, or you would like to read it again, and this Veterans Day/Remembrance Day, let’s once again thank those who have served and remember those who have died in defense of our countries.
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 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