Memorial Day Poppies

Did you ever wonder why veterans hand out poppies to raise funds during the Memorial Day holiday?  I guess I never thought about it, but now I know.  During WWI, the Germans shelled the trenches in Flanders, Belgium with chlorine gas.  A Canadian army doctor named John McCrae survived the shelling.  He treated he wounded and buried the dead.  He later noticed poppies growing among the graves, which inspired him to write “In Flanders Fields”, which is reproduced below.

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.


Out of horror, beauty blooms.