Remembrance Sunday 2015
The reason is quite simple. The Royal British Legion created the Poppy Appeal to help those returning from World War I. The poppy was symbolic and apposite as it was the one flower which was able to grow on many of the infamous barren battlefields at the cessation of hostilities. Its significance as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields. The poem opens with: “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.”
Subsequently it was adopted by the Legion after its formation in 1921 and remains, a century after the Great War, a powerful and emotive symbol, as the Legion continues to help the families of today’s Armed Forces, whether in coping with bereavement, living with disability, or finding employment. While the poppy was immortalised in McCrae’s poem, it was the fourth verse of For the Fallen, by Robert Laurence Binyon – first published in the Times newspaper on September 21st, 1914 – which has become synonymous with Remembrance Day and is read aloud at the hundreds of services around the country.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.” The white poppy, incidentally, was not, as many believe, created to insult the memory of the fallen; in fact, it was first introduced by the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1933 as a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars. It was produced by the Co-operative Wholesale Society but many veterans felt it undermined their contribution and the lasting meaning of the red poppy. Remembrance Sunday this year falls on November 8, so don’t forget to wear your poppy with pride and try to give up some time to attend a service near you. Others have given much more.