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,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
John McCrae, In Flanders Fields
Chalet LAbri Nov 1, 2002
a page from my journal....acg
The calendar turns and once more enters November with both Remembrance (Veterans) Day and Thanksgiving Day..I
have been reading the story of how Major John McCrae, a Canadian surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade
in Belgium in 1915 wrote his famous poem. Flanders is the name of the western part of Belgium.
An ancient battleground, the fields of Flanders have been soaked with blood for centuries. They say that poppies only bloom when everything else around them is dead.
And they say their seeds will lie in the ground for years, and only when there are no more competing flowers or shrubs,
will poppy seeds sprout. When McCrae wrote his famous poem in May, 1915, the
fields of Flanders were uprooted with thousands of new graves and poppies bloomed
around him in wild abandon like no one had ever seen before.
Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
all have this day of remembrance in common with America. In 1918, on the eleventh
hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, the Allied
powers signed a cease-fire agreement (an Armistice) with Germany at Rethondes, France on November 11, 1918, bringing World
War I to a close. The "war to end all wars" was over. November 11, 1919 was set
aside as Armistice Day in the United States; the purpose - to remember the sacrifices
that men and women made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace.
Congress voted this day of remembrance a federal holiday in 1938, twenty years after the first world war ended. But
Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began the following year and nations great
and small again participated in a bloody struggle. Then followed the long cold
war with Russia, war with North Korea, the Vietnam conflict, and the Gulf War. In
the long history of Americas wars and crucibles, going back to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the moniker Remembrance
Day seems to me more appropriate than Veterans Day or Armistice Day, because countless people both in and out of uniform have
contributed their energies, fortunes, and lives for the cause of freedom.
Even Thanksgiving Day was originally a time for Remembrance in the struggle
for freedom, as well as a time for giving thanks to the Lord God of Heaven who blessed the earliest beginnings of this land
of the free and home of the brave. So as this November begins, I brood over poppies,
count my many blessings, and with a grateful heart lift up a Deo Gratis.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be
grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people
of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that
is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and
protection of the
people of this country previous to their becoming a nation.......and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
George Washingtons Thanksgiving Proclamation,