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Poppies

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician, wrote the most famous poem of the war after seeing poppies blooming on graves of the fallen. McCrae himself died from disease in 1918, near the end of the war.

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.

* * *

Inspired by McCrae’s poem, American Moina Michael began a campaign promoting the poppy as a symbol of remembrance. Her efforts led to the adoption of the poppy as a memorial symbol in the United States and in English-speaking countries overseas.

In recent years, awareness of the poppy’s significance has declined in the U.S., although it remains strong in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has launched a national campaign to revive the poppy as a national symbol while raising funds for a new national memorial for America’s World War I generation in Washington, D.C. Learn more!

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