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.
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
The only significant holiday in November is Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. It is a very important day. Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of people in all armed conflicts. In the days leading up to Remembrance Day, many people wear an artificial poppy on their clothes. These red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died in conflict situations.
On Nov. 11 special services are organized, and often include the playing of “The Last Post” and a two minute silence at 11 a.m. Wreaths are laid at local war memorials.
Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. WW I was a massive conflict played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces. WW I and WW II and other military conflicts, such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars, have resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives amongst both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The wars have left great emotional scars for the servicemen and -women who experienced them and, by association, their families and communities.
In Canada, Nov. 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance dates back to 1921, and comes from a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military in WW I. The poem is called “In Flanders Fields”, and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.
Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers in battlefields. The red petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of the casualties in the conflict.
War memorials are also symbolic of Remembrance Day, particularly the well-known memorial known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in WW I, but who was never identified, were laid there.
Children in schools should talk about Remembrance Day and learn about it. It’s about respecting the veterans who fought for the freedom we have today, but also about preventing future atrocities, and a focus on actions to ensure that future generations won’t have to fight in wars at all.
By the time many of you have read this column, the Clinton Seniors’ Association Marketplace of Nov. 2 will have come and gone. I want to thank everyone who supported this fundraising event by attending or working to make it happen. Prize winners of raffles and draws will be announced in December.
The Clinton Seniors’ Association’s next regular meeting is on Nov. 21 following lunch at the Clinton Seniors’ Centre, 217 Smith Avenue. After a brief recess, the annual general meeting will be convened.
There will not be a general meeting in December. Clinton Seniors’ Association members look forward to the Christmas Party on Dec. 3, which will be held in the Royal Canadian Legion basement on Lebourdais Street, by invitation only.
There are no Clinton Seniors’ Association member birthdays to celebrate in November.