Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow, Between the Crosses, Row on Row’


As we enter Memorial Day Weekend, it is right and proper to remember the ones who gave The Last Full Measure so that we might have a level of liberty and freedom never known in world history before our magnificent, glorious, truly exceptional Nation was born. What better way to remember and honor them than by recalling what has been called one of the greatest War Memorial Poems of all time, In Flanders Fields, written by Dr. John MacRae in 1915.

He and a young friend, Alexis Helmers, joined the 18,000 soldiers of the First Canadian Division near Ypres, Belgium, and it was during this battle that the Germans unleashed the first major poison gas attacks of the war. The interesting history of how the poem was born was described as follows:

On 2 May, Alexis Helmer was killed. Because the brigade chaplain was absent, McCrae—as the brigade doctor—conducted the burial service for his friend. Later, at Helmer’s grave, he wrote a few lines of verse that were the beginning of the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

Before the war, McCrae had written poetry in Canada, and some of his work had been published.

McCrae later sent a finished copy of his war poem to The Spectator magazine in London, where it was rejected. But a journalist who visited the hospital took a copy back to Punch magazine, which printed it—anonymously, without McCrae’s name—on 8 December 1915. Within months it became the most popular poem of the war. Its powerful use of the symbol of the poppies blooming from the churned earth led to the tradition, to this day, of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those killed in service.

As we remember the fallen and perhaps buy some poppies to help honor their sacrifices, it would be well to recall these haunting lines and remember that the torch is ours “to hold .. high” and to never “break faith with [those] who die…”

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.

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  1. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    • #1
    • May 22, 2020, at 12:40 PM PDT
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Rodin Member

    May we always uphold the honor of these med and women by keeping faith with their defense of liberty.


    • #2
    • May 22, 2020, at 12:46 PM PDT
  3. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rodin (View Comment):

    May we always uphold the honor of these med and women by keeping faith with their defense of liberty.

    When I grew up in Canada in the 1950s just about all schoolchildren knew this poem by heart, as I do to this day. I sincerely hope today’s Canadian schoolchildren still do.

    • #3
    • May 22, 2020, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. WI Con Member
    WI Con Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    It’s a shame my kids and all kids raised in a “post-Peanuts” world. I grew up on their Christmas and Thanksgiving Specials but never saw that one-thanks.

    • #4
    • May 22, 2020, at 1:13 PM PDT
  5. OldPhil Coolidge

    My Great Uncle died in France August 7, 1918 and is buried along with 2,288 other Americans at Aisne-Marne US military cemetery. His mother, my Great-Grandma, was able to visit the cemetery in the 1920s as a Gold Star mother.

    See the source image

    • #5
    • May 22, 2020, at 1:15 PM PDT
  6. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The last member of my family to be killed in battle died in France, just six months before the armistice. He’d not been serving long, and was a 40-year old private with a wife and a six-year old daughter: That’s how desperate Britain was for men by then. In memory Thomas Herbert Mapson, Auntie Betty’s father.


    A few years ago, when the centenary of WWI was being memorialized in the UK, my sister sent me one of these poppy pins, cast from shell casings dug up in the fields at Passchendaele and other of Flanders’ fields, and with soil from those fields mixed in to form the red enamel. of the poppy.

    The earth which provided the final resting place for thousands of British soldiers has been mixed with enamel paint to decorate the memorial poppy pins

    Each pin memorializes the life of one of the slightly more than 60,000 British troops who died at Passchendaele. Mine commemorates 2nd Lt HH Swift, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, who died on August 10, 1917.

    It’s just a coincidence that the “Loyals” was also my dad’s regiment in WWII, but I think it’s a nice one.

    With a foot firmly planted on each side of the Atlantic, I wear the pin on Memorial Day and Armistice Day.

    • #6
    • May 22, 2020, at 2:02 PM PDT
  7. Juliana Member

    If you haven’t had a chance, and can manage a trip to Kansas City Missouri, be sure to visit the Liberty Tower and World War I National Museum (when they re-open June 1). It is a fantastic collection of memorabilia and story.

    • #7
    • May 22, 2020, at 2:11 PM PDT
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor

    On one of our trips to Thailand, we came across a little set of booths at a tourist site. One was manned by Thai soldiers who were delighted to hand us poppies to pin on our shirts, and even happier to have a picture taken with us. We were delighted to make a small donation, and were moved to see how pleased they were to pose with Americans.

    • #8
    • May 22, 2020, at 4:39 PM PDT
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    • #9
    • May 22, 2020, at 5:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Cow Girl Thatcher

    I always taught this poem to my 4th graders and we learned the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. I was able to indoctrinate 24 years worth of students in my time in the classroom. They were always very interested to learn about history, and their heritage, and how to be a more honorable American.

    I have many veterans in my family, but none of the close relatives were killed in combat. Memorial Day was always an important day when I was a kid, and we spent the day going from cemetery to cemetery in my little valley decorating graves of ancestors. Then, when I was a sophomore in high school (1968), my mother’s younger brother, an Air Force pilot, was killed in a plane crash that occurred while he was a test pilot in training to become an astronaut. The following spring we were at his grave site, and the VFW honor guard came to play taps and honor those who’d paid the ultimate price for their service. That was a very, very difficult Memorial Day for my family.


    • #10
    • May 23, 2020, at 2:12 PM PDT