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Veterans Day

Remembrance Day
November 11

In Flander's 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 amidst 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

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

John McCrae was a member of the Canadian Medical Corps. He was...described as a person with the eye of a gunner, the hand of a surgeon, and the soul of a poet.

The poem was written May 3, 1915. It speaks of Flanders fields, but the subject is universal - soldiers fear that in death they will be forgotten, that their death will have been in vain. Remembrance, as symbolized by the poppy, is the eternal answer which alleviates that fear.

Sadly, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae died of pneumonia in Wimereux near Boulogne, France on the 28th of January 1918 when he was 45 years old. Visitors come to Wimereux to see the gravesite of the man who wrote this memorable poem.

Why are poppies the symbol of Veteran's Day?

"They chose the Poppy because the worst fighting ... took place in an area called Flanders, in Belgium. In the spring, while the war was still going on, poppies bloomed in the fields that were destroyed by the war. The soldiers were amazed that something so beautiful as the poppy could grow in such an ugly wasteland."

Origin of Veteran's Day

WWI officially ended at 11 am on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day as a day to remember the sacrifices of those who fought for the freedom of their country.

On November 11, 1921, the body of an unknown soldier was laid to rest in the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" at Arlington National Cemetery. The inscription on the soldier's tomb reads "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

In 1938, Congress made Armistice Day a federal holiday. Then in 1954, they changed the name to Veteran's Day to honor all United States veterans.