Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Poppy

Memorial Day was set aside originally to honor the fallen warriors of WW1. As time went on, all veterans were included in the ceremonies. The red poppy has become an internationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.

My poem tries to capture some of the horrendous hardships and suffering endured by these soldiers and the miraculous appearance of the red poppy despite the war torn soil conditions.

Twas the spring of the year nineteen fifteen
Midst the worst devastation mankind had seen
Man challenged man on a stage of horror
Death and destruction; the First World War

Northern France and Belgium were front line sites
Where soldiers, allied and axis, waged heroic fights
Cannons, bombs and gas; all were readily spent
Many brave fighting men were souls-to-heaven sent

Nature’s pristine landscape was brutally trashed
Her plants and creatures, their death die cast
Broken trees, burning stumps and logs thrown askew 
Trenches, tunnels and bomb craters, make up the view

Spring rains turned the barren terrain into a sea of mud
Strewn with abandoned equipment, debris and blood
Despite the hell-on-earth conditions that did unfold
The battle went on; nature’s life forms were put on hold

 As the rain ended and the air warmed, the soil returned to norm
But the brutal conflict continued; a man’s virtual firestorm
Amidst this chaos, as if an omen the Heavens did bestow
The majestic red poppy was the only plant to grow

Poem by Herm Meyer             


The poppy movement was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces:
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.


Two ladies, American Miss Moina Michael and French Madam Anna Guerin, are credited with promoting the international acceptance of the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

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