Friday, November 11, 2016

Armistice Day 2016

An earlier generation knew the holiday that we now call Veterans Day came from  remembering the commencement of an armistice that ended the hostilities on the Western Front during World War I.  The Armistice began on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.  Today marks the 98th anniversary of that event and has become a remembrance of all veterans past and present.  Many parts of the world still take two minutes of silence at 11:00 AM to honor the more than 20 million people who died in that war.  Today's post is a repeat of an article we first published back in 2006:

Most of the world has never heard of John McCrae. A Canadian of Scottish descent whose family had a history of military service, John Alexander McCrae was both a physician and soldier. McCrae served in the Second Boer War and World War I. He also taught medicine at the University of Vermont and McGill University in Montreal.

However, McCrae is not remembered for being either a soldier or a physician. McCrae was appointed as a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery and was in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. There, touched by the battle death of his friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer, and inspired by the red poppies that grew in profusion near Ypres, McCrae wrote one one of the best known poems to come out of the “War To End All Wars” It is still recited by Canadian school children……

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.

In 1918, while still serving in the same field hospital, McCrae caught pneumonia and meningitis and died. Poppies, particularly in Commonweath Countries are still used as symbols of the Great War and are still closely associated with Veteran’s Day here in the United States.

Please take a moment today to remember all of our soldiers past and present. Especially remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.  

God Bless them all.