By Karen Kennedy

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

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.

The idea to wear the poppy to honour and remember those who fought in the wars is credited to Moina Michael, working with the American Overseas YMCA in the last year of the war. She was touched by the poem and pledged to wear a red poppy as her personal commitment to never forget the sacrifices made. The American Legion adopted the poppy as the official symbol of remembrance in 1920. In 1921 Madame Anne Guerin of France, also inspired by Moina Michael and the poem, with her organization the American and French Children’s League, began selling cloth poppies to raise money to help repair the devastation of the war.

To recognize the 100th anniversary of World War I, the Royal British Legion promoted a centenary project with schools and the public, encouraging the growing of red poppies.

The poppies growing in these fields were Papaver rhoeas. Poppies are known for their ability to grow easily and spread quickly.

Canadian War Museum