Remembrance Day | 4. "In Flanders Fields"

It was at what would become known as the “2nd Battle of Ypres”, in the spring of 1915, that the words of Captain John McCrae, would forevermore immortalize the symbol of sacrifice the world over. Captain McCrae was serving as a surgeon with the 1st Field Artillery Brigade during the battles of the Ypres salient. It was the death of a friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, that inspired McCrae to write his now famous poem. However, that poem was nearly lost forever as McCrae, who was not happy with what he had written, discarded it. A fellow officer retrieved the paper and sent it to England to be published. The Spectator of London rejected the poem but it was published by Punch magazine in its December 8th edition of 1915. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae died on January 28th, 1918 of pneumonia and meningitis. He is buried in Wimereux Cemetery in France.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That marks 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.

John McCrae
Flanders, 1915

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