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.
The infamous poem, "In Flanders Fields", written by Major John McCrae, M.D. of the Canadian Army was almost never published, though today it remains one of the most memorable war poems of all time. The doctor penned the piece follow a traumatic 17 day battle in Ypres Salient near Belgium at the end of World War 1.
Although the prose was significant to his own experience, McCrae did not feel it merited sharing and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved the poem and sent it to The Spectator in London, whom rejected it. This non-official agent of McCrae sent it out once again to Punch who published it in December 1915.
In 1918 an American who was working in the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' headquarters during its annual conference came across McCrae's poem while flipping through a copy of the Ladies Home Journal. She was so moved by it that she composed her own in response. Her tribute, entitled "We Shall Keep the Faith", honored the soldiers who died in the service of her own country.
Then Moina conceived the idea to wear red poppies as a symbol of rememberance on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She invested the $10 stipend from the conference to purchase 25 poppies which she sold to benefit servicemen in need. This tradition is continued to this day by the VFW and has spread to other countries around the word.
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
What thought-filled words of yours could have an enduring impact and inspire others? You won't know until you share them.
Do you recognize the value of another's writings? Encourage them today.
As writers we can use our gift of words to encourage and bless the families of service men and women who have lost loved ones or are serving in the armed forces now. Share the message of hope.
Do you have a relative who's story you can share of their time spent serving our country?
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
(This post was previously shared on Memorial Day 2010.)