Monday, May 30, 2011

In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow

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

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

I still hear them singing.  For years I followed the Sprague High School Concert Choir all over the country as a devoted choir mom.  Where they went, I went.  Where they sang, I listened.  I internalized their music, their sound, their spirit.  It was a unique and memorable experience.

While every piece of music they performed was a favorite, the haunting chords of "Flanders Fields" still echo through my memory.  The words were touching, impacting these high school students as they realized the significance of their meaning.  They understood the weight of what they sang, and imparted a mood that was stirring.  Solemn.  Breathtaking.  Heartwrenching.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved.....

Here was a group of youth that had the world by the tail.  Their future held such great promise, and now they sang of those who short days ago also had had the world by the tail, who had lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, had loved and were loved.....  I think it was more than a little humbling.

I knew of poppies too.  Years before, when I was these students' age, I learned of the poppies of Flanders fields.  Does anyone else remember selling paper poppies for Memorial Day?  As a Girls State Delegate for the State of Idaho, I was asked by the sponsoring Veterans of Foreign Wars to take my turn selling red crepe paper poppies, a remembrance of the sacrifice given by so many to retain the cause of freedom.

It was a small thing.  And yet I felt a part of something great; something bigger than my own little world.

To you, from failing hands, we throw the torch.

Great sacrifices have been given, and yet the fight isn't over.  The torch passes from one generation to the next, a desperate call for courage against evil men.  May we not fail those who have given their lives for this sacred cause.  And amid the cookouts and the picnics of this holiday, may we not fail to remember them.
And give thanks.

To learn more about this poem and the history of the poppies on Flanders Field:


Laura said...

Wow... Wow. Amen. This post moved me.

Nancy said...

What a wonderful post, where would we be if it wasn't for the great sacrifice of these great and brave men in arms!!

Kate The Great said...

I'm here to make your day, Ardith. I'm happy to know there's a fellow writer in our small circle of congregation, even if you and I don't have much contact because you're on the stand, playing, and I'm in a classroom, teaching.

This touched me, as well. I hope it brings warmth on this chilly day.

Kim said...

Thank you for your touching words!

Outside the Pumpkin Shell said...

This was like a song to me. Every word.

LeAnn said...

What a very lovely post; I really enjoyed the words from the song.
It brought me back memories of those paper poppies. I wish that we could instill in the children of today a love for this great country. I would wish that they could understand that so many have faught and lost their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Blessing to you!