Lest We Forget

Flanders Field poppies

Today is a day to slow down, stop and remember. A day to reflect on the freedom we have and what was the cost of that freedom. Call it Armistice Day, Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day, all are dedicated for us to pay our respects to fallen soldiers.

As Canadians we traditionally use the Poppy as our symbol of Remembrance Day. This year marks the 100 anniversary of the poppy so I dug into the history of it. What is the history of both the poppy and the poem? What is Flanders Field all about?

First and foremost, Flanders Field is the name given to the battle grounds in Southern Belgium and Northern France area. This once barren land was the site of many WW1 battles, also called The Great War.

The constant bombardment of fighting disturbed the soil and nitrogen that was left created a perfect growing condition for the poppies to flourish. Many soldiers died there.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was a Canadian doctor stationed near Ypres Belgium, in the area called Flander, in 1915. In May of that same year, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae lost a good friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer in the battle. He was buried in a grave in the Flanders area. McCrae observed the poppies had already begun to grow around soldier crosses which inspired his writing of the now famous poem, “In Flanders Fields”.

As the war ended and counties began the rebuilding Madame Anna Guerin of France was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” and created a charity to raise funds to rebuild the war torn areas of her country. She created cloth poppies to sell and raise funds for her cause. Later she presented her idea of the poppy to Allied countries and on July 6th, 1921 Canadian accepted the idea to adopt a poppy as the symbol of remembrance. This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the poppy in Canada.

I traditionally wear the poppy as do most people I know. We purchase one each year, and wear it in support of our veterans. This year however I wanted to do more, dig deeper and make the remembrance last longer.

I spent intentional time remembering and researching the freedom I have because of the people that paid the ultimate price. They lived a life of sacrifice, self sacrifice and the cost to their family was huge.

These are the men and women that died in the war that we honour yet there are many, many soldiers that came home wounded physically and emotionally. PTSD was not something anyone talked about 100 years back, honestly it has only been in my adult memory that the trauma of war and the scars it leaves have started to be addressed. The funds from the poppies were originally used to rebuild war torn France and now the funds are to rebuild people. To support and love them back to wholeness.

So every year I put my few dollars into the box, take a poppy and wear it on my lapel. I think about my brother- in- law who served, I think about my nephew and my neighbours that also represented our country recently. And now today at 11 minutes after the 11th hour on the 11 month we have a a few moments of silence. What to do with the silence?

No I’ve never been at war, nor has my homeland ever been under attack, yet I do know people that have. They served well, for me, for you. So what to do with the silence? I prayed, I asked to have open eyes and heart to see the need in others and in what ever way I can to love into that need. We all have scars ……. we all can love.

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