The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

100 years ago today the guns fell silent, bringing to an end the First World War, called at the time the “Great War” or, more fatuously, “The War to End War.”

The anniversary of that ending became a national holiday in the United States and other places.  In the United States it eventually became the holiday we know as Veteran’s Day, a day to remember not just those who died in our nation’s and the world’s defense, but all those who served.

The wearing of poppies has become a veteran’s day tradition although, like many traditions, it has much fallen by the wayside.  But that tradition has its origin in the poem “In Flanders Fields”:

In Flanders Fields

BY JOHN MCCRAE

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.

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