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Saturday, Jun 15, 2024

The Red Poppies of Memorial Day

Every major holiday has a symbol associated with it; Valentine’s Day has hearts, Thanksgiving has turkeys, but what is Memorial Day’s? Its symbol is none other than the humble poppy flower, particularly the red poppy.

The red poppy first became a symbol of the aftermath of battles fought during World War I. The seeds of this flower only germinated once the ground it lay dormant in was disturbed. As lands in Europe lay war-torn in the wake of battle, red poppy fields emerged before any other plants, leading to the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae in 1915.

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.

It is because of the poppy’s ability to sprout after such harsh conditions that they became not only a symbol of the loss of life of soldiers fighting the good fight but also one of recovery and new beginnings.

This Memorial Day, remember to adorn a red poppy in honor of the great sacrifices made by those in the military.

Source: Almanac