This year marks the 100th anniversary of John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields. As a poem that every Canadian elementary student has come to know, this significant piece of war art has gone down in history as one of our nation’s most cherished ways to remember those who have fallen, not just in World War I but in every war. What comes next is the story behind this poem.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was a gunner and medical officer for the Canadian forces during World War I. His friend, Alex Helmer was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres where McCrae himself was fighting as well. This death served as the inspiration for In Flanders Fields and shows the deep and lasting connection made between humans in war.
There are many stories of how the poem came to publication- one written in twenty minutes after Helmer’s funeral, one crumpled and thrown away only to be found by a colleague, but however it got to the masses, In Flanders Fields remains, one hundred years later, a true depiction and homage to the hard ships of war.
Today, as you wear your red poppy, think of all those who have fallen in war (whether it be soldiers or not), those who have fallen because of war (mental health, PTSD) and those who will fall in the future.
Peace, love and history.