In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row
November 10, 2014
Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, which commemorates the sacrifices of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. Remembrance Sunday takes place in the UK each year just before November 11th, Armistice Day.
In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday each year, The Royal British Legion sells red paper poppies to raise money to help Armed Forces families. This year, about 350,000 volunteers helped to ensure that they brightened every lapel and coat collar. The poppy has been a powerful symbol of hope since the delicate flowers bloomed across the ruined battlefields of Western Europe, inspiring a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae, to write "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.
2014 is centenary of Britain's involvement in the First World War, and this is being marked at The Tower of London with an astonishingly beautiful and moving installation called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, by ceramic artist Paul Cummins. The moat surrounding the Tower has been filled with 888,246 red ceramic poppies--one for each British serviceman killed in the war. It is an amazing sight. Look here for an aerial view that does it justice, unlike this photo I took on Sunday. Millions of people have flocked to see Blood Swept Lands, and it has just been announced that part of the display will remain until the end of November. Some of the ceramic poppies will tour the country before going on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum.