Lest We Forget
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army, Author In Flanders Fields
One death particularly affected Lieutenant McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.
The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem - In Flanders Fields.
In fact, it was very nearly lost forever. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The London Punch published it on 8 December 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.
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Lest we forget.
Jared Dreyer, AMP
Dreyer Group Mortgages Inc.
Proud Member of the VERICO Brokers Network
Canada's military and the First World War
Two minutes before the armistice went into effect, at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, Pte. George Lawrence Price was felled by a bullet. Price would become the final Commonwealth soldier — and the last of more than 66,000 Canadians — to be killed in the First World War
Canada in the Second World War
Between the declaration of the Second World War in September 1939 and the conflict's end in 1945, Canadians fought in Dieppe, Normandy, the North Atlantic, Hong Kong, during the liberation of Italy, and in many other important air, sea and land campaigns.
In total, more than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in the army, air force and navy. More than 47,000 did not come home.
Korea and Afghanistan
Since the end of the Second World War, Canadians have taken part in dozens of United Nations peacekeeping missions around the globe, from Cyprus and Haiti to Bosnia and Somalia. Troops have seen active combat as well.
In Korea, 26,791 Canadians served during a conflict that raged between 1950 and 1953. The battles of Hill 355 and Hill 187, among others, saw Canadians fighting in swamps and rice fields, through torrential rain and snow, in the air and at sea.
Canada has steadily increased its military involvement in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in 2001.
By 2006, Canada had taken on a major role in the more dangerous southern part of the country as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The fighting grew fiercer, and the casualty count rose. By March 2010, 141 Canadian military personnel had died in the country. One Canadian diplomat, one journalist and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.
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And I'm proud to be a Canadian, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men/and women who died, and gave that right to me.
Original poem written by McCrae...
Why the poppy?
The association between the poppy and war dates back to the Napoleonic wars, when a writer saw a field of poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers.
During the Battle of Ypres in 1915, Canadian Lt.-Col. John McCrae was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields on sighting the poppies growing beside a grave of a close friend who had died in battle.
The poem was a great inspiration in adopting the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance in Canada, France, the U.S, Britain and Commonwealth countries.
The first poppies were distributed in Canada in 1921.
Today, donations from the distribution of millions of poppies is an important source of revenue for the Royal Canadian Legion that goes toward helping ex-servicemen and women buy food, and obtain shelter and medical attention.