Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Flower of Remembrance

My article "The Flower of Remembrance" in the November 2013 edition of the Countryman Magazine traces the history of the Poppy and how it became a worldwide symbol of commemoration of the fallen, to John McCrae'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.

The idea of a manufactured poppy was pioneered by Moina Belle Michael of the YMCA in New York in 1918. Inspired by McCrae's poem, she hunted down 25 manufactured red poppies and sold them to anyone willing to buy.

The story quickly spread and ever more poppies were demanded.

Anna Guérin of the French YMCA Secretariat was enthralled by Moina's idea of wearing a manufactured Flanders Field Poppy as a poignant memorial and potential fund-raising initiative. In France she organised the production of cloth poppies on a grand scale with the help of women, children and veterans.

The idea took off and in the following years millions were made and sold to support war veterans and their dependents. Poppies were soon being assembled, sold and worn with pride worldwide, every one a deed of courage remembered.

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