Why We Wear the Poppy #LestWeForget

Why We Wear the Poppy

{Photo attribution ~ Oak Lawn Images}

The opening scene, in the movie Saving Private Ryan, is what I can only imagine being the closest thing to capturing the absolute horror, confusion and brutality of war.

I am always left with a feeling of absolute wonder as to how any human being could function in the midst of such chaos and under so much duress. It definitely underscores the sacrifice these soldiers made and the tremendous debt of gratitude we, as a society, owe these brave individuals.

Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in the Commonwealth of Nations countries to remember soldiers killed in the line of duty.

The tradition of wearing a poppy began on November 11th, 1919 to mark the one-year anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War I, on November 11th, 1918.

It has since been expanded to honour soldiers from all wars. The day is also marked in Non-Commonwealth Nations, often under a different name, such as Veterans Day in the United States.

The red Remembrance Day poppy has become the symbol of Remembrance Day, due to the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian doctor/soldier, John McCrae.

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed. Helmer was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, McCrae began the draft for his now famous poem, In Flanders Fields.

Poppies bloomed on the battlefields of Europe and their brilliant red colour became a symbol of the blood spilled during the war.

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
In Flanders fields.

Written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Sadly, Dr. McCrae did not survive the war. He succumbed to pneumonia in January of 1918.  However, his poem is celebrated in many countries around the world and is considered a Canadian literary work of art.

Please, on Wednesday, November 11th at 11:00 AM, (the 11th month, the 11th day and the 11th hour), take a moment to honour the brave men and women and the tremendous sacrifice made by all veterans to keep us free and safe.

Especially, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their life for our freedom.


This is why we wear the poppy.

Lest We Forget.

{Guest Post by Randall Parlee}




  1. Thank you , Monica for posting this very touching and informative blog. And thanks to Randy for his research!

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