Lieutenant John McRae was a Canadian poet, author, artist, and soldier. During the Battle of Ypres in Belgium, during World War 1, he served as a battlefield surgeon. He wrote “In Flander’s Field” following the death of his twenty-two year old friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who was killed by artillery fire and buried in a makeshift grave in a Flanders, Belgium poppy field.
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 Flander's fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hand we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high If ye break faith with us who those who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.
- John McCrae
In honour and memory of all who have served, far from home and loved ones, to protect our lives, our families, ourhomes, and our freedom. In honour and memory of those who paidthe ultimate price – those who gave their lives and those who mourned their loss.
People are taking time today to pay their respects to those who have fought for our right to live our lives in peace and freedom. These brave men and women, who have given everything, up to and including their own lives, deserve nothing less and so much more.
My parents were newlyweds during the second world war. While the battlefields were across the ocean, the war was felt everywhere. For the most part, young men fought the battles on the fields, however, virtually all played a part in the war effort. The men and women who were not fighting were serving as medics, field mechanics, drivers and more. They worked to keep factories, stores, schools, hospitals, and more operating at home. They built and maintained training bases for the forces in Canada. Families and friends, at home and abroad, mourned new losses every week. Young wives were left young widows with families to raise alone. Everywhere, people struggled with shortages and rationing of food and other necessities. Even the children and the elderly, were victims of the widespread devastation and destruction, suffered losses, and made sacrifices that we cannot conceive of today.
Today we must remember the reality of war and all that have been affected by it. We must give gratitude and respect to those who have served in any capacity so that we can live the life we have in Canada. We must remember that there are still places in the world struggling for peace and there are those who are sacrificing their lives to fight for it.
These days, there are many in Canada who are promoting an attitude of intolerance, fear, anger and “us against them” . This is an insult to those who we remember and honor today. Today and everyday, Canadians must work together to maintain the peace that so many fought and died for. They deserve nothing less, and so much more.