Flanders Fields


This long weekend includes Memorial Day; a day dedicated to honoring those who fought and died so we can be free. What a sacrifice - to give one's life, and be willing to take the lives of others, so we can live in peace. As a child, I memorized this poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, who fought in World War I in the Flanders region of Belgium. Maybe you memorized it too. The message still haunts me.

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.      


This message was written to us during World War I. It's haunting to contemplate the phrase, "World War" - the world at war! The poet talks about it from his personal perspective, simply and vividly describing the precious sacrifice of those who die so we may thrive.  He tells us, "Short days ago, we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields."

Is there another way to "take up our quarrel with the foe," a way to negotiate the freedom to live rather than to die - side by side?