Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"In Flanders Fields"

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal, "Kudos to Jason DeSena Trennert for starting a campaign to bring the poppy back to Wall Street. He and his colleagues will be wearing red paper-crepe poppies and will be sharing them with clients. He's trying to renew a great tradition.

Once upon a time, before Memorial Day inspired thoughts of a weekday at the beach, it marked an opportunity to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America. The poppy became a symbol of remembrance and gratitude for departed soldiers after World War I and the publication of the 1915 poem, 'In Flanders Fields'".

Written by Canadian army officer and physician John McCrae after he witnessed the horrific carnage at Ypres, Belgium, the poem began with the words, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row and ends with "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."

Nearly a bloody century later, Americans have infinitely more reasons to remember and to be thankful for all those who have since died in defense of liberty."

When I was in about the fifth grade our teacher had us remember the words to this poem. For those of you who have never heard it or have forgotten this poem, I quote the entire poem:

"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."

Unfortunately, the many peace treaties signed did not bring peace to Europe. Too many sactions were imposed on Germany and within a short few years, the world was heading for WW II in which another 10,000,000,000 more lives were lost.

I doubt if one out of ten grade or high school kids know much about the causes of war and why wars will continue to be fought by those given the wrong education such as those terrorist who exist in probably every country in the world. "Make love; not war" won't stop those who wish to do us harm from harming us.

To learn more about John McCrae, insert his name on your search bar.


Anonymous said...

My students learned exactly what you wrote about. I'm just wondering about the 10,000,000,000 lives lost. Where did you get this total?

Merle Widmer said...

A questioin was raised by a reader about the 10 million figure I used and how I reached that figure.

Over the years, historians have used that figure to represent the number who died in World War Two.

Considering those who were killed in the Holacaust, those killed on the Russian front, those killed in the invasions and all fronts, those killed in the bombing of England, Germany, etc, those who died of diseases, and the list goes on.

Probably more than 10 million died as direct result of all activities if there was any way to calculate