Poppy Day and Flanders Fields

Evanston , IL

Poppy Day and Flanders Field
by Michael L. Wojciechowski

In 1915, during World War I, there was an exceptionally horrific battle known as the Second Battle of Ypres, Belgium. During this battle, the use of poison gas by the German Army devastated the Allied troops. Dr. John McCrae, who was part of the Canadian Field Artillery Unit, had a friend, Alexis Helmer, who was part of the 18,000 Canadians that were killed in that battle. During Helmer's burial service, McCrae wrote the first few lines of the poem, "Flanders Fields."

The poppies are a reminder of the valiant servicemen that paid the ultimate sacrifice in defending their country during that long six-week battle. Even in this day and age, visitors continue to pay homage to Flanders Field and the troops buried there.

On May 24, you will see volunteers out in front of stores, in the streets and on street corners asking for donations. Those kind people will receive a poppy. I put mine on my rearview mirror in my vehicle. I’ve seen them on hats, coat lapels, purses and even on lunch boxes. Even though it was over 100 years ago, we continue to honor those fallen troops.

Members of The American Legion and the VFW are vigilant in helping collect donations commemorating the date in military history. These donations help support veterans and some of the programs that they are affiliated with. One hundred percent of the donations go directly to veterans.

"In Flanders Fields"
by Lt. Col. 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.

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