The red poppy has long been associated with this day. It came as a surprise to me that an American lady was responsible for the idea of the poppy being the symbol of remembrance, which many wear on this day, because I never see I never see poppies being sold here or people wearing them.
Poppies grow all too easily in my garden as they do in the fields of Flanders, long immortalized in the poem, by Canadian physician John McCrae, In Flander's Fields. They can lie dormant in the soil for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed. McCrae wrote his poem after burying his friend, who died at the second battle of Ypres, and where the poppies that grew around the grave made a deep impression on him.
In 1918 an American school teacher, Miss Moina Michael, was a volunteer in the YMCA in New York, when she read McCrae's poem in the Ladies' Home Journal. Inspired by these final words of the poem
'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 Flander's fields'
and the photograph of ghostly soldiers and poppies, she responded by writing her own poem which included the following lines.
We cherish too the poppy red,
That grows on fields where valour led
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
When other volunteers read her poem, they collected $10, and Moina went out and bought 25 red silk poppies which she pinned on the office staff. When the war ended she campaigned the American Legion for the poppy to be the memorial emblem for American fallen soldiers. A French visitor to the convention determined that the commemorative poppy should not be confined to America. She went home to France and arranged for the making of the poppies by French war widows. 9 million poppies were ordered for the first Poppy Day to be held on November 11 1919. The tradition continues to this day.
I remember well the selling of the poppies, by service veterans, every year. They were sold by modest donation. Today's poppies are simpler and made of paper.
There have been special observances this year to mark the Centenary year and they will continue until November 2018, the day the war ended.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Outside the Tower of London, 888,246 ceramic poppies, representing the number of British who died in WW1, have been planted in ground.
The three photographs, shown here, were taken by Canadian friends who visited London in September. At that time not all the poppies had been added.
Photographs of the completed display can be seen here Unfortunately copyright prevents me from adding these images to my blog.
I hope as the clock strikes 11 on this day you with think of those who lost their lives in wars everywhere.