A World War Memorial Day to Remember Forever - Why is a Poppy the Remembrance Day Flower?
By Tina Norman
I was walking across the New Forest, (a UK National Park) where I am lucky enough to live and I was reminded of the most important memorial day we hold in England at this time. I'm talking, of course of the Remembrance Day Service which takes place every November 11th and which is symbolised by the blood red poppy.
The Canadian War Memorial site near Bolderwood in the New Forest, for me, sums up the huge human loss and futility of war. It is where Canadian servicemen were billeted and was where many consequently went on to lose their lives. Throughout the year messages, flowers, badges and even photos of lost loved ones are placed on this site.
There are always poppies left here throughout the year, either as wreaths or just as individual displays with small, heartfelt messages to fallen loved ones attached.
At the moment there is a beautiful photo of a Canadian serviceman which shows his lovely bright eyes shining out from his happy young face. He looks proud of his uniform and what it represents and is ready to go and fight for the cause. He is only at this memorial site because he subsequently lost his life.
His beautiful face is in a sea of poppies in memory of his and his fellow serviceman's efforts during wartime.When I got home, still with his face in my mind I wanted to know
Why was the poppy used as a symbol for this special memorial day?
WW1 and WW2 memorials will have these stunning red displays placed on them as a memorial to all those who lost their lives in both World War One and World War Two, but more significantly today, in the huge loss of life our Armed Forces are experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During World War One complete devastation was experienced on the Flanders and Picardy fields of Belgium and Northern France.
The poppy was the only flower to bloom from the mud of this war zone. It epitomised new life out of destruction but also through its brilliant red colour provided a very poignant memorial to symbolise the carnage and blood letting of these WW1 battles.
The first official Legion Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11 November 1921. Each year since then, throughout the UK, the death and destruction which was experienced by the troops on those Flanders' fields during WW1, has been an annual event to remember and reflect on for all generations since.
It is strange that I was visiting the Canadian War Memorial when I wanted to learn more because perhaps the most famous wartime poem to sum up why the poppy was used was written by John McCrae a doctor serving with the Canadian Armed Forces. He wrote this poem In Flanders' Fields which sums up what he experienced, first hand as a WW1 medic.
Here it is
1915 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.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the First World War ended. Civilians wanted to remember the people who had given their lives for peace and freedom.
In America, a War Secretary, Moina Michael, inspired by John McCrae's poem, began selling poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-Service community. And so the tradition began.
IN England by 1922, Major George Howson, a young infantry officer, had formed the Disabled Society. At this time there were many disabled ex-Service men and women from the First World War. Employment was hard to find, and Major Howson suggested to the Legion that members of the Disabled Society could make poppies and the Poppy Factory was subsequently founded in Richmond, Surrey in 1922. It was designed to be easily assembled by workers with a disability and this principle remains today.
I thought this was a very poignant poem and I now understand why the poppy came to symbolise this time of utter destruction of human life, and why it is used as a symbol of this special memorial day.
I have more information on both the New Forest during World War One and World War Two and also on what living in the new Forest is really like. Why not visit My New Forest Life Travel Guide. Find out more about the animals of the New Forest, the wartime life of the New Forest or just look at some of my lovely photos.
I've written this article to share with you not only my life on the New Forest but also to tell you where there are some wonderful World War One and World War Two memorial sites. Each time I visit the Canadian War Memorial I find it very moving to know that those fallen servicemen are still very much in peoples hearts and minds and that the poppy gives its bright red face to us to help us remember the sacrifice that war demands from all who take part.
My New Forest Life travel Guide has lots of great WW1 and WW2 information for me to share with you. Some of the wartime stories are really funny.
Yes a New Forest pony did have a panic attack in a WW2 tea room with very wet consequences!
I hope you enjoy them and if you visit the New Forest National Park in the UK you will have a wonderful experience to remember forever.
Article Source: A World War Memorial Day to Remember Forever - Why is a Poppy the Remembrance Day Flower?