Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Red Poppy and Remembrance

1. Poppy Appeal collection display 2016
(Bransty Royal British Legion, Whitehaven, Cumbria)
2. Large poppy on cemetery entrance gates
(Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumbria) 
3. The red poppy and the CWGC Cross of Sacrifice
(Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumbria)
4. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cross of Sacrifice
(With poppy wreath and some war graves behind)
Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumbria
The red poppy of Remembrance 

The remembrance poppy was inspired by the 1915 war poem 'In Flanders Fields' by the Canadian doctor, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. In 1918 an American YWCA volunteer, Moina Michael, used John McCrae's poem to write one of her own ('We Shall Keep the Faith') and conceived the idea of wearing a poppy as a symbol of remembrance. She began selling silk poppies as a way to raise funds for disabled ex-service personnel.

In 1921 the poppy was adopted as the symbol of remembrance by the American Legion Auxiliary and also by the Earl Haig Fund which developed into what is now the Royal British Legion. Each year the R.B.L. has a poppy appeal at Remembrance time which coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

Many people still assocaiate the red poppy and Remembrance with the fallen of the two World Wars. Although this remains important to the R.B.L., for 2016 the Legion wishes to wants to raise awareness of a new generation of veterans and Service personnel that needs its support.

For further information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Royal British Legion annual poppy appeal

The annual poppy appeal is the Royal British Legion’s largest fundraising campaign. It tends to open at the end of October and has its climax with the commemoration of Armistice Day (11 November) and Remembrance Sunday. The funds raised help to support the organisation’s work in supporting the Armed Forces Community. Throughout Britain, the Commonwealth and some other countries wear the paper or cloth poppy as a symbol of Remembrance – that is the fallen service men and women who have died in the two World Wars and other conflicts since 1945. There are also poppy crosses to place of the graves of family and friends, car stickers and enamel badges.

Photograph No. 1 shows how one such R.B.L. local branch, that of Bransty, Whitehaven, Cumbria, helps promote the annual appeal. This photograph shows a table top display showing the collection tins, the various types of poppy that are sole and a cardboard model of a Cenotaph. Most branches of the R.B.L. have similar such displays. Volunteers, young and old, go out to street corners, workplaces or knock on doors to sell the poppies.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the average distance from most homes in Great Britain is no more than 3 miles (c. 5 kilometres). Many of the servicemen and servicewomen who died during the First or Second World Wars were laid to rest in cemeteries or churchyards close to their homes. Some, perhaps serving far from home were laid to rest in a cemetery or churchyard close to where they died. For example, this was the situation for many Commonwealth troops, overseas Air Transport Auxiliary volunteers or Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit volunteers who died during the First or Second World War.

Photograph No. 2 shows one of two large Remembrance poppies placed near the entrance gates of Whitehaven Cemetery by the local Bransty British Legion. This cemetery has 77 ‘official’ graves maintained by the CWGC graves (First and Second World War). In addition, there are a several graves of service personnel who have died since the end of WW2. Photograph No. 3 shows the poppy cross next to the CWGC sign with the ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ behind. The British Legion also placed a poppy wreath at the CWGC ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ and poppy crosses on all the known war graves in the cemetery, four of which can be seen in photograph No. 4.

The story of the red poppy is therefore not just a national or international symbol of remembrance but is found in many local communities throughout Britain, the Commonwealth and beyond. It is largely from the sale of artificial poppies that the British Legion is able to continue supporting ex-service men and women and their dependants … and it all began from a poem written by a Canadian doctor, John McCrae, serving on the Western Front in 1915.

Sunday, 13 November, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae

Below is John McCrae’s poem which inspired the later use of the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

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.

‘We Shall Keep the Faith’ by Moina Michael

Below is Moina Michael’s poem, ‘We Shall Keep the Faith’, which was inspired by the poem by John McCrae, referring to the “poppy red”. It was written in November 1918.

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.


This article is dedicated to the memory of all those who have died in the two World Wars, their families and close friends and the work of the British Legion.
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Sunday, 13 November, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Click on the following link for a short history in words and pictures about the story of how the poppy became the symbol of Remembrance (BBC news article):

How the poppy tradition began

Tuesday, 15 November, 2016  

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