Memorial Day Remembrance

Almost every year prior to Memorial Day, the Library receives at least one reference question pertaining to a special poem. The question usually goes something like this, “As a child, I learned a poem about poppies and fields. Will you help me find a copy of it?” The clerk will typically conduct an Internet search to locate the poem. (Prior to newer technology, I utilized Granger’s Poetry Index to find the same thing. Does this statement show my age?) The requested poem, In Flanders Fields is reprinted below from “The Home Book of Verse” by Burton Egbert Stevenson:

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 we break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915 following the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier who died during World War I at the Battle of Ypres. It is one of the most well-known and beloved poems of our time. It is often used to lend significance to the meaning behind the United States holiday, Memorial Day.

There is a common misconception among the public that Memorial Day is a time to remember all of our loved ones who have died. However, it was originally intended to honor the memory of American servicemen and women who gave their lives during active duty. Several resources are available which can provide expanded information about this and many other holidays. Any local library branch can be of assistance with holiday reference questions.

Happy Reading!