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Poppies in Bloom


A utility box at the RCAF Commemorative Park in Edmonton is painted to commemorate the famous poem, "In Flanders Fields", by John McCrae. Photo by John Chalmers.


Poppies were in still in bloom on September 20 at the dedication ceremonies of the RCAF Commemorative Park, with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band providing music for the occasion. Photo by John Chalmers.


Even in late September, poppies at the RCAF Commemorative Park, like the starburst monument in the background, reached towards the sun. Photo by John Chalmers.


The Poppy, Symbol of Remembrance

From the Canadian War Museum website.

1921 poppyThe adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance has international origins. The first person to use it this way was Moina Michael, a member of the staff of the American Overseas YMCA in the last year of the war. Michael read McCrae's poem and was so moved that she composed one of her own in response. She recalled later: "In a high moment of white resolve, I pledged to keep the faith and always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance and the emblem of 'keeping the faith with all who died.'"

Consequently, she led a successful campaign to have the American Legion recognize the poppy as the official symbol of remembrance in April 1920. At the same time, Madame Anne Guerin, of France, inspired both by McCrae's poem and by Moina Michael's example, also became a vigorous advocate of the poppy as the symbol of remembrance for war dead. Her own organization, the American and French Children's League, sold cloth copies of the flower to help raise money to re-establish war-devastated areas in Europe.

In 1921, Guerin travelled to Britain and Canada on behalf of the poppy and convinced both the recently formed British Legion and the Canadian Great War Veterans Association (a predecessor of the Canadian Legion) to adopt the poppy as their symbol of remembrance as well. The first 'Poppy Day' in both countries occurred on 11 November 1921. The Returned Soldiers League in Australia adopted the poppy as its symbol of remembrance the same year.

For the first year, these artificial poppies were bought from Guerin's organization in France. By 1922, however, the various countries had started manufacturing them at home. In Canada, they were made by Vetcraft shops, run by the Department of Soldiers Civil Re-establishment and staffed by disabled soldiers. After its formation in 1925, the Canadian Legion (known as the Royal Canadian Legion since 1959) has run the poppy campaign in Canada.

An early edition of the Legion's magazine, The Legionary, explained the significance of buying poppies made by Vetcraft, as opposed to commercially available copies, as follows: "The disabled veterans in Vetcraft and Red Cross workshops are creating true memorials, while a poppy replica produced under ordinary commercial competitive conditions is nothing more nor less than an artificial flower."

The artificial poppy continues to flourish as the symbol of remembrance in the week leading up to the official commemorations on November 11. Today, millions of Canadians wear the bright red emblem to remember and honour the many thousands of their fellow Canadians who have died in war.

Click here to view the original article.



Ceremony in Griesbach honours 100th anniversary of ‘In Flanders Fields’

By Caley Ramsay Web Producer Global News

EDMONTON — One-hundred years after it was written, Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s iconic poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ continues to be a large part of Canada’s history and this weekend, it was honoured at a ceremony in Edmonton.

A bronze plaque etched with McCrae’s hand-written words was unveiled at Flanders Field Park in the Griesbach district Sunday morning. Two story boards were also showcased, one explaining how McCrae came to write the poem during the Second Battle of Ypres and the other explaining how his poem and the poppy became the symbol of remembrance.

“It’s a poem that tells people about why the soldiers were there and it talks about the lives cut short. The Great War, the First World War, an entire generation was lost during that war,” said Lt.-Col. Roger Scott.

“To think of an entire generation wiped out and cut down in its prime, you need to remember that. And this war that was supposed to end all wars and yet we’re still going off to conflict and and conflict still rages around the world.”

To read the full article and view video footage, click here.


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.

~ 3 May 1915 John McCrae