Our View: Memorial Day traditions

May 27, 2019

Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day we remember America’s servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice. There aren’t enough words to thank them. But we make gestures just the same.

Today you might see people wearing a red poppy. That Memorial Day tradition stems from a World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Lt. Col. John McCrea. A few years later, Georgia teacher Moina Michael wrote her own poem in response, calling for people to wear poppies to pay tribute to those who died in war.

In the spirit of McCrea, Michael, and the thousands of people they’ve inspired over the years, we offer their words:

In Flanders Fields

By Lt. Col. John McCrea

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

We Shall Keep the Faith

By Moina Michael, 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.

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