Monday, November 7, 2011

Poppies on November 11th

In honor of the upcoming Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, as it is known here in the U.S.), the poppies of Maurice Kirth:

Maurice Kirth. Wear a Flanders Poppy. Poster, ca. 1918-1938.

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row...
--Lines from John McRae's "In Flanders Fields"

It was John McRae's eerie poem, "In Flanders Fields," first published in Punch in 1915, that inspired American YMCA worker Moina Michael, herself a poet, to begin the tradition of wearing a red poppy to honor the dead of the First World War. Michael initiated the poppy's symbolic appearance on lapels in 1918.

I will be attending Yale's Veterans Day service this week. I hope that you will also honor the fallen in some way and, importantly, the living who have served in the military or who serve today. May we all, even though we may have different feelings about war, be thankful for the contributions of veterans and welcome them to a place of health, happiness, belonging, and opportunity in our society.

© Fiona Robinson

Sources and further reading:

Wikipedia: "Moina Michael":

Wikipedia: "Remembrance Poppy":

Wikipedia: "John McRae":

"In Flanders Fields" reprinted in Poems from Punch, 1909-1920. Macmillan, 1922.

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