Why wear poppies in November? 'In Flanders Fields'

Why wear poppies in November? 'In Flanders Fields'
Source: Reusableart.com

There’s always a moment when I know it’s November. This year, it came while I watched the Hawks-Winnipeg Jets hockey game on TV on Sunday, Nov. 2. Behind the players’ benches, both coaches wore red poppies in the lapels of their suit coats.

I haven’t found anyone selling poppies on the sidewalks of Chicago, as I have in other years, but today (Nov. 3) I added my metal red poppy pin to my neckline. It’s an important reminder.

I’ve had people my own age ask me why I’ve worn my metal poppy every day in early November. I’ve responded by bringing a small poetry book to them and showing them the reason. It’s “In Flanders Fields,” by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian poet. My favorite copy of the poem includes a note that Lt. Col. McCrae, a Canadian solder, died in France in January 1918, after four years of service on the Western Front of World War I.

To explain the poppies, and in memory of Lt. Col. McCrae and all the others we will honor most on Nov. 11, but should honor otherwise, here is the text of his poem:

“In Flanders 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

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.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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