Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned that I remember veterans and other service-related groups selling poppies around Memorial Day as a tribute to those who died in service to the U.S. and to raise money for servicemen in need.  Have you ever wondered why?
In 1915,   a Canadian soldier, Lt. Col. John McCrae wrote In Flanders Field after witnessing the death of a close friend.  Many casualties were buried in Flanders, and poppies grew wild in the field there.  McCrae, having witnessed the death of a close friend, wrote the poem:

In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still singing bravely, fly
Scarce heard among 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 Field. . . 

(Note:  Flanders Field is in Belgium.  There is another stanza to the poem.)

American Moina Michaels, inspired by the poem, wrote her own version:

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.

Michaels then started wearing the poppy in memory of fallen soldiers and sold them to friends and co-workers to raise money to benefit soldiers' families.  A French woman, Madam Guerin, heard about the program while she was visiting the States, and when she returned to 
France, she started making paper poppies to sell to raise money for the widows and children of soldiers.  The tradition started to spread around the world, and in 1922, the VFW in the U.S. started selling the paper poppies nationally. 

The poppies shown in my post today are growing wild along a creek on the westside of Nashville (right).  There are thousands of them, and I had never noticed them before.  There is a lot of new construction in the area as developers are building Nashville West, a shopping plaza, in the area.


Ming the Merciless said...

I love poppies and they are totally appropriate for the occassion.

Halcyon said...

I have never heard of that before. Thanks for teaching me something. :)

I love the wild, red poppies in your pic. They are very pretty.

smilnsigh said...

Thank you for the history of the poppy, on Memorial Day.

Oh dear, I hope all the construction doesn't eliminate those lovely wild growing poppies. -sigh-

Miss Mari-Nanci

brian said...

what a neat post and story! i'm not sure that i've seen poppies around here, but i'll be on the lookout now =)

Steve Buser said...

Thanks for "the rest of the story." I never really thought about where the poppies idea came from. Guess I thought it was somewhat arbitrary.

Denton said...

While living in Belgium, my wife and I visited Flanders Field. It was a very moving experience.