“IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.”
Written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a poet and physician, who noted the arrival of the small delicate flowers in the spring of 1915 amongst the shattered landscape around him (the fighting greatly increased the lime content in the surface soil, leaving the poppy as one of the few plants able to grow). The poem was first published December 8, 1915, gained instant popularity and was used in recruiting and selling war bonds. American college professor Moina Michael wrote a poem in response “We Shall Keep the Faith” days before the Armistice on November 11, 1918 and vowed to always wear a poppy in remembrance of those who served in the conflict. Her efforts to promote the poppy as a symbol of remembrance prompted the American Legion to officially adopt the small flower as a symbol of remembrance in 1920 and veteran groups continue to sell paper versions of the flower to raise funds to help veterans in need. Its symbolism is recognized around the world.