‘In Flanders Fields’ for Memorial Day

Dear Annie: About five or six years ago, you printed a column about why we hand out poppies on Memorial Day. It had something to do with a poem from the first World War. At the time, I wasn’t that interested (sorry), but now that I have grandchildren old enough to understand history, I want them to have this information. Would you reprint it? – Not a History Teacher in Texas

Dear Not: Happy to do it. This poem is quite famous and used to be well known in the classroom, but we don’t know whether it is still being taught as often as it once was. If not, we think it deserves to be resuscitated.

“In Flanders Field” was written in 1915 by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D., a Canadian who served as a surgeon in the Great War. He wrote it after witnessing the death of a friend at Ypres, Belgium. McCrae died in France in 1918, at the age of 46, from pneumonia, an all-too-common battlefield ailment.

“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.

Editor’s note: Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.