Lest we forget…

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.

John McCrae

On May 3, 1915, Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was moved to write the poem, “In Flanders Fields” after he presided over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier, Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle Ypres. In June of the same year, John McCrae was named Lieutenant-Colonel in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne, France.  He was promoted to acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918. The war years had taken a toll on this brave soldier who had enrolled in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the relatively advanced age of 41. The very same day that he was given his promotion, he contracted pneumonia and later came down with cerebral meningitis. He died on January 28, 1918 at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honours.  His words continue to inspire and challenge us to seek peaceful solutions.

19 thoughts on “Lest we forget…

    • When I was reading John McCrae’s history, I was inspired by his compassionate spirit. This man cared deeply for his men and for his country. But he hated and saw nothing glorious about war.

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  1. Glory of the Canadian Hero.
    Let me present you excerpt from Polsih military song by Feliks Konarski 17-18 maj 1944:
    […] Red poppies on Monte Cassino
    Instead of dew, drank Polish blood. […]
    No more war.

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    • Thank you so much for your comments and for the poem by Feliks Konarski. Dramatic and profound. I agree wholeheartedly – no more war. “Years will pass and ages will roll (Przejdą lata i wieki przeminą), But traces of bygone days will stay (Pozostaną ślady dawnych dni!..)…

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