Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lest we forget

During the First World War northern Belgium was the scene of some of the bloodiest hand to hand battles ever fought by man. The area known as Flanders was once the home to generations of families, and the fields and farms that covered it were some of the most productive in Europe.

In 1914 thousands upon thousands of British, French and German lives were lost, and that once green and fertile land was turned into a quagmire of blood sodden mud.

Only one thing survived. The seeds of poppies that had lain dormant beneath the soil were liberated, and soon after the land was turned into a sea of brightest red, not from the blood of the dead, but with the petals of millions of dancing poppies.

And every year more and more poppies reappear across the fields of Flanders to remind us of the sacrifice a generation made in order that we should be free today.

Today is Remembrance Day when we wear our paper poppies, and observe two minutes silence during which we remember all those who have lost their lives in all wars.

The poppy seller

A proud man

He stands in the street

seemingly oblivious

to the chill November breeze

On his head

his regimental beret

On his chest

a row of brightly polished medals

From a strap

around his neck

hangs a tray

of blood red paper poppies

A proud man

doing what he can

to remind us today

of those who died so we’d be free



  1. We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

    Funny what you remember from grammer school.

  2. My husband and I had the privelege of visited the late President Harry S.Truman's library in Missouri several years ago. While touring the exhibit we found a letter he had written to his wife to be, Bess. He was Captain Harry S. Truman at the time and was serving as an artilleryman during WWI. Accompanying the letter was a single poppy he had picked in the fields of Flanders. The letter said, "If I were a sob sister, I would cry over such a loss of life." (Paraphrasing) I was so touched. Thank you for this post and the beautiful music.


  3. This is beautifully written, Keith. You have not filled it with mushy emotion, like a Hallmark card, but you have spoken with respect and pride and gratitude- as these men and women so deserve.
    It's days like this that I miss being in my home-land. You've brought it that bit closer to me...thank you.
    Bella :)

  4. Touched my heart.. wars scar so many families.. and yet.. it continues!

  5. Flanders poppies for remembrance day and rosemary to represent ANZAC day are something I always have in my garden.
    Thank you for posting this Keith.
    I bought a poppy here yesterday.
    Today there was a line of gorgeous red Flanders poppies in flower along someones front fence that caught my eye and looked fantastic, flowering at just the right time.I have planted some but they are too small yet to do anything.
    I am a soldier's daughter and such things are close to my heart.

  6. the poppies. my dad spoke about them. the bean has a rememberance service at his school every year. i have never REALLY thought about it. i have now. thanks!

  7. You know, I've known the Flanders fields quote for so many years, and I never connected it with the poppies on the lapel. I wonder on how many others this important lesson was similarly lost...

  8. Keith, I wrote a post and linked to this bit. Thank you for the reminder.


  9. Keith what a lovely way to remember. The picture of the poppy amongst the black is so gorgeous. While they are beautiful. I still enjoy my daffodil. Such a happy little flower.

  10. This is such a great piece Keith. It is very emotional and informative. You say everything with such flair and genuine sincerity great piece. Hugs and kisses to you

  11. Hi!
    That is an Awesome post! My dad was in WW!!. I always buy a poppy to remember him. Thanks for stopping by my place. Take Care!!


  12. Well said Keith, Lest we forget!

  13. Thank you for taking the time to remind those of us, myself included, who too often get caught up in our own lives to remember those who made our existence possible.

  14. what a touching post. thanks for the important reminder....

  15. I never knew why poppies were worn for Remembrance Day. Thank you.

  16. Like others, I didn't know about the poppy connection. It all makes perfect sense now.

    So much tries to get lost as we march forward. Thanks for making sure this didn't.



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