On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the “war to end all wars” ended. While the United States honors all of its military veterans annually on November 11, this year is particularly special—it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day)—holidays observed in Europe to commemorate the end of World War I and remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty.
People honor lost loved ones in many ways. Some plant trees while others create shrines or sew quilts. Less often, an everyday object becomes a symbol to commemorate a collective loss. An ordinary plant became such a symbol one century ago.
The common poppy, Papaver rhoeas, is an annual plant in the Papaveraceae family. It produces seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for as long as 100 years. Since the seeds need light to grow, they only germinate in disturbed soils. Trench digging, bombs, and mass cemeteries decimated Europe’s landscape during World War I, causing millions of poppies to bloom on the disrupted soil. Imagine the contrast between the horrors of war and the beauty of red poppies blanketing the European countryside.
What we can only imagine now was once reality to Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. In 1915, McCrae noticed poppies blooming on a battlefield in Belgium, inspiring him to write the war poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poem references the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers. For our Canadian Spark Friends, they know that
John McCrae, was a Canadian doctor and teacher who is best known for his memorial poem “In Flanders Fields,” was born on November 30, 1872, in Guelph, Ontario.
I served in the US Army Alpha Co 426 Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, 18th Airborne Corp at Fort Braggwhaddadragg, North Carolina. I am the only woman I know who has Navy dog tags from her dad, Women's Army Corp (WAC) dog tags from her mom and her own regular Army dog tags on a chain!
I know that DESERTDREAMERS and TALLYFL are also Veterans! BLESSED2BEME and REDMANCHRONIC also! I'm sure there are more of you out there!