Remembrance Day & The Poppy
In Flanders Fields (1915) was written by Canadian World War I (“The Great War”) military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae. McCrae is said to have composed the poem after his friend and fellow Canadian artillery officer Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed in France during the Second Battle of Ypres on May 2, 1915.
John McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario on November 30, 1872; he served in the volunteer militia there as a teenager. After graduating from the University of Toronto medical school in 1898, McCrae served in the Boer War in 1900. Before World War I began in 1914, McCrae had established a distinguished career as a doctor and surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, and Montreal General Hospital.
John McCrae died of meningitis and pneumonia at the age of 45 in France during World War I, on January 28, 1918 and is buried in Wimereux Cemetery near Boulogne. His poem In Flanders Fields was published by London, England’s Punch magazine on December 8, 1915.
100 years later, seniors and baby boomers will remember reciting In Flanders Fields in school to commemorate war veterans, and the poem popularized the poppy as a remembrance symbol that is worn by millions every Remembrance Day.