11 November 2005

From the Library of Congress

poppyToday in History: November 11

I remember school exercises each November 11, which was by then Veterans Day and had been since after World War II, but my parents still called it "Armistice Day." Each of the grades would present something, the younger children often singing all the service songs as well as "You're a Grand Old Flag," "God Bless America," and "America." One of the older children would always recite "In Flanders Fields," being careful to instruct them not to lapse into sing-song and thus separate "we throw" and "the torch" into two unnatural units, that sad verse being proclaimed in a childish treble. If you were performing you would come to school in your best clothing: suits on the boys, Sunday dresses on the girls. The rest of us sat in corderoys or heavy plaid skirts, long sleeved shirts and raglan-sleeved sweaters, trying not to wiggle in the hard auditorium chairs. The piano would be wheeled onstage and we would rise, the music teacher would play "The Star Spangled Banner" and then we would say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and the exercises would begin.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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.
I remember buying poppies when I was a child; poppy sellers appeared on the streets of downtown Providence, but I haven't seen a lot of them in years. A few years ago I saw a poppy seller and bought one, but haven't seen any since.

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