Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Day: In Flanders fields

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War.

"Remembrance Day" is the primary designation for the day in many Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada. However, "Armistice Day" also remains, often to differentiate the event from Remembrance Sunday, and is the primary designation used in New Zealand and France.

"Poppy Day" is also a popular term used, particularly in Malta and South Africa. "Veterans Day" also falls upon this day in the United States, yet many other allied nations have quite different Veterans Days.

Common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) traditions include two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 am, 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when armistice became effective.

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae was a Canadian poet who served as a medical officer in the Boer War and World War I. This poem, published in 1915, honours and commemorates the men who died in the horrific battles in Flanders. It is said that he was inspired to write this poem after seeing the blood red poppies grow on the graves of his friends around Flanders. The poppy has since become a symbol of veterans worldwide.

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 day s 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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