Sunday, November 9, 2008

Veterans Day

As my husband and I were running our Saturday errands we were stopped in front of Walmart by a couple of war veterans handing out little red poppies. They reminded us that Veteran’s Day is the 11th. This made me think of that wonderful poem written by John McCrae called In Flanders Field.

Last spring I was asked to write a non-fiction childrens’ activity book titled The Kids' Book of World War I: An Activity and Internet Exploration Project. Towards the end I told why McCrae was impressed to write his beloved poem.

He served in World War I as a Canadian field surgeon for the 1st Artillery Brigade. John McCrae was familiar with battle having previously served in the bloody Boar War in South Africa, so by the time he answered a call to duty in World War I he had seen enough blood to last a lifetime. The brigade fought in many battles, but the second battle at Ypres in the spring of 1915 was most memorable. He treated not only Canadians, but British, Indians, French and Germans. For over 17 days the fighting was fierce. A good friend of McCrae’s was killed by a shell burst. His remains were put in sandbags. The sandbags were placed on an army blanket and then fastened together with safety pins. However, the fighting was so fierce that they couldn’t bury him during the day. Using the cover of night, McCrae and several other soldiers buried their friend.

The following day, during a break in the fighting, McCrae sat on the step of an army ambulance and wrote his beloved poem, noting the scene before him. Wild red poppies were blooming in the field amongst the rubble of war and where thousands of soldiers had died. Poppy seeds normally lie dormant in the soil until the ground is heavily turned or dug up which enables the seeds to sprout. In this particular field there was a high concentration of lime due to the rubble of limestone buildings that had been blowup during the war. Thus the conditions were right for thousands of poppies to bloom.

You can hear McCrae’s poem at the address below.

My father served in the Navy prior to World War II. This picture was taken while he was stationed in Hawaii. He lost many friends at Pearl Harbor. His contribution to the war effort was building torpedoes at the base in Keyport, Washington. I have a soft spot in my heart for veterans.

Are there military veterans in your life? Please write and tell me their stories.


  1. I love this poem, Kathi. My third grade teacher Miss Jenny made us memorize it and I still know it by heart. It is so beautiful.
    My Dad served in the Navy in WWII. I have his sea bag with uniforms, books, letters, etc.

    Your blog site looks so nice.

  2. A beautiful blog, Kathi, and very thought-provoking. Thanks:o)

  3. Thanks for the inspirational story and the link to the poem. The Forgotten Warrior sounds like it will be fascinating!
    My dad served as a B-17 pilot flying out of England in WWII, so I, too, have a soft spot for our veterans who have given (and are giving) so much to our country.
    By the way, I tried to become a follower of your blog, but somehow the link doesn't work.

  4. Elizabeth, I have my father's old navy uniform as well. What a treasure to have your father's letters!

    Thanks for stoppy by!

  5. Very touching, Kathi. I just watched a Phil Donahue PBS special about his documentary featuring a young soldier returned from Iraq who is paraplegic. How little we think about those who've served! Thanks for reminding us about Veteran's Day.

  6. So glad I visited your blog. I even printed out the story so I could go on-line, in the near future, and read the different websites you studied.

    The story was so well done. Thank you



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