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.
This poem was written by a soldier on the front during World War 1. As he looked over the field where the fallen were buried, all he could see was a mass of poppies waving in the breeze, and was compelled to write these words – words which captured the heart of all who read it…of his fellow soldiers, who encouraged him to publish it, plus the newspaper that eventually published it, and all of its readers.
Poppy seeds lie in the soil. When the soil is turned over, the seeds germinate and the poppies then grow. Due to the mass disturbance of the soil on Flanders Field where the fallen where buried, poppies grew in abundance. So, when the anniversary of Armistice Day rolled around, the poppy was the natural thing to be used as a symbol of remembrance for those who had fallen.
In the UK and many other commonwealth countries, the symbol of the poppy is still used today. On 27th October the 2016 Poppy Appeal was launched. The Royal British Legion each year organises the selling of the poppies in many places all over the country. A donation is given and in return you are given a poppy to wear, showing you remember the fallen heroes. The proper way to wear your poppy is to have the leaf pointing to eleven o’clock.
You can now buy poppy pins or brooches which are popular here. (They aren’t as likely to blow off in the wind, and don’t get all crumpled so that by the time Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day arrive it still looks fresh!) A lady in my home town 2 years ago started crocheting poppies which a local shop sells and all the money is given to the Poppy Appeal. They proved so popular, she has continued to do it since.
The money raised during the appeal goes to help support current and ex soldiers and their families with whatever they need.
Also as a show of support, many people (including myself) are putting pictures of poppies on their Facebook profile and cover pictures. So, if you have seen a lot of poppies on Facebook and have been wondering why, now you know!
I love this tradition. It gives us time out each year to remember those whose lives were lost as they laid down their lives for their country to give us the freedom we experience today. I particularly like the mark of respect of the 2 minute silence at 11am on 11th November (Armistice Day), when the country stands still to remember the fallen. It’s now 102 years since the war first started, and we haven’t forgotten them.
Always during this time, as I remember the fallen heroes of my country, my attention is also turned to another fallen (although now risen) Hero – One who gave His life for the whole world, to grant us freedom from sin and its penalty of death to all who will recognise their sin and their need for forgiveness. The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, saw the penalty of sin was death. He loved us so much, that He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, so that we could have a place in heaven. He stood in my place – He stood in your place. All you have to do is reach out and ask for forgiveness. God then looks at what happened at Calvary and says – Your sin has been paid for, you are free, you have a place reserved in heaven for you.
I pray I never forget what Jesus did for me on the cross. I echo the words of the refrain of Jennie E. Hussey’s hymn Lead Me to Calvary:
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.
~ Wendy Sparkes ~