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In Flanders Fields
Every November 11, people in many countries buy poppies to show they remember brave soldiers and are proud of them. Do you know why the poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day? It is because of a Canadian doctor who wrote the most famous war poem ever, “In Flanders Fields.”
A Brave Doctor
By the time World War I began in Europe in 1914, John McCrae had been a doctor for many years and had already served in the South African (Boer) War. McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario, in 1872 and had been writing poetry all his life.
By April 1915, McCrae was in an area of Belgium known as Flanders. The courageous doctor was in charge of a medical centre in the middle of the battle raging there. He tried to treat the injured men, but dead and wounded soldiers kept rolling down into his dugout operating station. McCrae barely had time to eat and sleep—there was not even time for him to change his clothes.
Death of a Friend
In early May, a good friend of McCrae’s was shot and killed in battle. McCrae sadly buried his friend but wanted to do something more. He could no longer help his friend or any of the other dead soldiers around him. But McCrae knew that if he wrote a poem about them, he could tell of their lives and perhaps it would help people remember them.
Looking around, McCrae saw the blood-red poppies blowing in the wind in a nearby cemetery. They inspired him to write “In Flanders Fields.” But he did not think the poem was very good and threw it away!
Luckily, another officer found the poem and realized how great it was. He sent it to magazines and newspapers in England and it was published in December 1915. The poem was an immediate success and it inspired people around the world.
McCrae continued to care for wounded soldiers in Belgium and France. He worked very hard. But, in January 1918, he came down with pneumonia. By the end of the month, this quiet but famous soldier, doctor, and poet was dead.
McCrae’s poem raised soldiers’ and civilians’ spirits during World War I. Organizers in Canada hoped the poem would help raise $150 million to support soldiers and others, but it brought in almost three times that amount.
Every year, Remembrance Day is celebrated on November 11 at 11 a.m., because that is the date and time in 1918 when the agreement that finally ended World War I was signed. Poppies are mentioned in McCrae’s famous poem and that is one of the main reasons the flower was chosen as a symbol of remembrance.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
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.
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1. What is the symbol of Remembrance Day?CorrectIncorrect
2. What was John McCrae’s role when he was stationed in Flanders during World War I?CorrectIncorrect
3. True or false? John McCrae thought his poem was good and sent it to magazines and newspapers in England.CorrectIncorrect
4. True or false? John McCrae was very courageous and brave.CorrectIncorrect
5. What did organizers in Canada hope the poem would do?CorrectIncorrect
6. Why is Remembrance Day celebrated on November 11 at 11 AM?CorrectIncorrect
7. What is your favourite line in the poem? Explain what you like about this line.
Great answer!Great answer!
Type your response above.