Photo by Chung Chow
In Flanders Fields
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
May 3, 1915
The poppy has come to symbolize remembrance.
Inspired by Canadian poet and physician Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s haunting “In Flanders Fields,” which he wrote during the World War I Battle of Ypres in Belgium, small, red-coloured artificial poppies are traditionally worn on clothing leading up to Remembrance Day to commemorate military personnel who have died in war.
Poppy wreaths are also often laid at war memorials.
“The idea is all about remembering the war dead. It’s as simple as that,” says Matthew McBride, who is front and centre in the Richmond poppy campaign, organized by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 291.
“People always ask how much does a poppy cost and I always say it’s already been paid for. Whatever you feel like donating. The benefit is we live in a very generous community and typically we get $1, $2, 25 cents. We also see 50s and 100s come in. One hundred per cent of the funds stay here in Richmond and are used to benefit veterans in our community. But if people say we don’t have money, I give them a poppy myself because it’s more about remembering. ”
The Royal Canadian Legion, which has trademarked the poppy image, suggests the poppies be worn on the left lapel, or as near the heart as possible.
Every year, the legion conducts the poppy campaign which is organized and run by local legion volunteers at more than 1,400 branches across Canada and abroad. The funds are held in trust at every level of the legion, and the use of these trust funds are strictly controlled, with appropriate approval processes.
This year, the Royal Canadian Legion hopes more than 18 million poppies will be proudly worn by Canadians between now and Nov. 11.
“Every year, for two weeks, thousands of Legion members volunteer their time to offer poppies and raise millions that will be provided to veterans and their families in need,” said Dominion president Gordon Moore. “While I am proud to be a veteran, I am also particularly proud to be a member of the legion during this period when millions of Canadians answer the call to help our veterans through the poppy campaign.”