Yesterday was Rememberance Day here in Canada. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we pause for two minutes of silence to remember all those who have sacrificed themselves in times of war so that we may enjoy our freedom. From the Boar War at the turn of the 20th Century to the current conflict against ISIS in Syria & Iraq, our Armed forces have fought to uphold the principals of our country & to keep our way of life safe from tyranny & terror.
It is also the 100th anniversary of the writting & publishing of John McCræ’s famous poem 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.
Three incredible stanzas that powerfully capture the terror, honour & bravery of soldiers at war. The poem is recited by school children every Rememberance Day & is even used as inspiration by sports teams (most notably by the Montreal Canadians). However, I have always felt that the last three lines are the most important – especially in the context of Rememberance Day & remembering the sacrifices made by soldiers of the past & soldiers of the present. “If ye break faith with us who die//We shall not sleep, though poppies grow//In Flanders fields.” If we forget the sacrifices, bravery & the horrors of war – as well as what our brave men & women fought for our freedom is hallow. Though we wear poppies above our hearts every November, we must understand their symbolism & their significance. We cannot break faith, we cannot take freedom for granted. Lest we forget…