It’s the 2nd of November which means that in 9 days, it will be Remembrance Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we take a minute’s silence to remember those who have served their country and pay our respects for the sacrifices they made for us. This means a lot to me as both my father and grandfather fought in the 2 world wars. The poppies will be on sale between now and remembrance day so if you are out and about and see someone selling them, please try to buy one and wear it. It’s such a small thing to do to say thank you. The following is from the 2013 Poppy Appeal and has some facts about why we use the poppy as a symbol of commemoration. It’s interesting reading and a wonderful reminder to buy your poppy. I’ve also added the video campaign for this year. It’s very moving.. Please watch and pass it around. Lest We Forget.
Since 1920, the red poppy has been used as a symbol of commemoration to soldiers who have fallen in times of war.
During the First World War, poppies were among the first plants to bloom on the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. According to soldier’s folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. Poppies grew in profusion over the earth which had become the grave to thousands soldiers, making the poppy an appropriate symbol to represent the sacrifice of life and the bloodshed of trench warfare.
The sight of poppies springing up amidst the ravaged battlefields of Ypres inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write one of the most notable and popular poems of the period, In Flanders Fields (see following page). It is believed that the poem was written on May 3rd 1915 after McCrae witnessed the death of his 22 year old friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the day prior.
The tradition of wearing a poppy began just before the
armistice in 1918. The secretary of the American YMCA,
Moina Michael, read John McCrae’s poem and was so
moved by it that she decided to partake in a personal
commemorative ritual of wearing a red poppy. She believed
this was a powerful way of keeping alive the faith that John
McCrae had urged in his poem. In November 1918 a
meeting was held with YMCA secretaries from around the
world providing Moina Michael with a chance to discuss the
poem and her decision to wear a red poppy. This inspired
the French YMCA secretary, Anna Guérun to take the idea
further and begin selling poppies to raise money for those
affected by the war – particularly widows, orphans, veterans
and their families.
The poppy soon became widely accepted throughout the allied nations as a symbol of remembrance which was to be worn on Armistice Day. Poppies were first sold in Australia in 1921 and continue to be sold by the RSL in the lead up to Remembrance Day every year to raise the much needed funds for the organisation’s valuable welfare work.
Poppies are available:
Via your local RSL Sub-Branch (list available at http://www.rslvic.com.au)
From collectors in your local community during late October/early November
Through ANZAC House at 4 Collins St, Melbourne
Or donations can be made at http://www.poppyappeal.com.au.
In Flanders’ Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel 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’ field