I was coming out of a store in my home town of Gig Harbor when I was stopped by middle-aged man who was with a couple of other men selling poppies to support veterans. I told him I would contribute if he

Flanders.2could tell me why we celebrated Veterans Day with poppies. He paused and told me that he thought it had to do something with flowers during the Civil War. I gave him money and told he had failed the test. I said it was because of a famous poem written during World War I by a soldier who died on the Western Front, an area famous for the horrible conditions of trench war fare. (see: I told him that when he went home he should look it up because it was historically important to veterans. Here is the poem "In Flander's Fields"

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
he torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

The poem was written by a Canadian physician, Lieut. Col. John McCrea. He wrote it May 3rd, 1915 while serving on the Western Front after the funeral of a fellow soldier who died in the second battle of Ypres. The poem was first published in December of that year in a London newspaper. It was immediately popular and soon was used in appeals to recruit
Flanders fieldssoldiers for the war as well as to sell war bonds. The line about red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the poppy being adopted as the memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict.

 McCrae was a poet and physician from Ontario Canada,He had written poetry most of his life and had published some of his work. When he was 41 years old he joined the Canadian Army after the start of the first world war. He could have joined the medical Corps, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. He wrote this poem on his second tour of duty. McCrae had faught in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army for the first time used chemical gas. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas. His friend was killed. He was inspired to write the poem because he saw how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died in the battle. He wrote the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance. A fellow soldier was responsible for it's publication.

The poem was republished throughout the world and translated into many different languages. The poppy was adopted as the symbol for soldiers and veterans in Great Britain, Canada, United States and other countries. McCrae died on his third tour at the Western Front January 28, 1950.

So, when you see the veterans raising money with poppies think about McCrae and the famous poem he wrote about the bravery of those who died fighting for their country.

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