Today, around the World is Remembrance Day.
Whatever you feel or believe, it is a time to remember those
who have lost their lives
and to pray, wish, meditate on Peace to end Wars.
You will notice Poppies everywhere today. People wear them, they adorn the internet,
postcards, memorial wreaths and do so as part of a very long tradition
which began on Armistice Day.....
The wearing of a Flanders poppy is a ritual that marks the Armistice of 11 November 1918.
During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium.
It was believed that the brilliant red poppies came from the blood
of the fallen after it had soaked into the ground.
The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the 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
Moina Michael, who worked for the American YMCA, read McCrae's poem just before the Armistice. She was so moved by it that she wrote a poem in reply
We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
Moina decided to wear a red poppy always as a way of keeping faith.
At a meeting of YMCA secretaries from other countries, held in November 1918, she talked about the poem and her poppies. Anna Guérin, the French YMCA secretary, took the idea further by selling poppies to raise money for widows, orphans, and needy veterans and their families.
If you can make it to a service today the listings for Australia can be found here at the RSL
If you are outside of Australia, look to your local community organisations.
But simply at 11am today, just go outside,
stand on the Earth and Remember those who have gone before
and add a simple Blessings for no more.
Lest we Forget.