In Flanders Field
by Lt. Col. John McCrae
Canadian Army Medical Corps
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
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
(May 3rd, 1915, Battle of Ypres, Belgium)
Penned during "The War To End All Wars" - so called because of the millions of lives lost in the bloody, years long conflict - In Flanders Fields stands as the definitive poem for Veteran's Day. It's a tribute to Lt. Col. McCrae's friend lost in battle, and as such is both a solemn memorial and a compelling call to action.
I had the privilege of reciting this poem when I was only twelve at a Veteran's Day observance in Manchester, Massachusetts, many years ago.
Back then my main focus was simply reciting it clearly and without error; now of course I grasp the deeper, heartfelt meaning McCrae intended.
And so I pause once again to give thanks for veterans everywhere...
...men and women dedicated to serving and protecting our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.