Here in Canada it is Remembrance Day. November 11th at 11:11 am people all across this nation stop what they are doing for a moment of silence to remember the lives lost in line of duty. Many attend parades or services, we wear a poppy on our shirts and coats, kids are taught in their schools the importance of this day.
It’s about honouring. Honouring our servicemen and women past and present.
Because today is Saturday, my four year old, attended his first Remembrance Day assembly at school yesterday (on the 10th). He has been singing his own rendition of Oh Canada all week. He’s still working on the correct lyrics, but it sure is cute! I love that at four years old he’s already learning these values. Sure, he doesn’t really understand it fully yet. But he’s already learning the importance of honour.
A few months ago I had the privilege of attending a ball in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. More than 10,000 Canadian lives were lost in that battle, with no known graves for them. The battle of Vimy Ridge was a major mark in our military’s history. It was a huge moment when we were seen as a truly effective army. We won. But at a cost. Freedom is not always free, let us always remember that.
Today I pray for our military and military families. Today I pray blessing on them, wisdom for those in command, protection over our soldiers, strength for the families who stand behind them.
Today I am thankful for the sacrifice paid for us.
I will close this post with a very famous poem written by Major John McCrae in 1915.
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
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.
Inspiration for the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae
Major John McCrae, second in command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery during the Second Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915.
It is thought that doctor John McCrae (30 November 1872 — 28 January 1918) began the draft for his famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ on the evening of the 2 May, 1915 in the second week of fighting during the Second Battle of Ypres.
It is believed that the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer, was the inspiration for McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The exact details of when the first draft was written may never be known because there are various accounts by those who were with McCrae at that time.
- One account says that he was seen writing the poem sitting on the rearstep of an ambulance the next day while looking at Helmer’s grave and the vivid red poppies that were springing up amongst the graves in the burial ground.
- Another account says that McCrae was so upset after Helmer’s burial that he wrote the poem in twenty minutes in an attempt to compose himself.
- A third account by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, states that John told him he drafted the poem partly to pass the time between the arrival of two groups of wounded at the first aid post and partly to experiment with different variations of the poem’s metre.
John McCrae, was serving as a Major and a military doctor and was second in command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. The field guns of his brigade’s batteries were in position on the west bank of the Ypres-Yser canal, about two kilometres to the north of Ypres. The brigade had arrived there in the early hours of 23 April.