King's Cross Station
If you're in London, you'll have seen men and women walking around for weeks now with poppies pinned to their lapels; Remembrance Sunday is this weekend, and everyone is showing their appreciation of those who have given their lives for peace and freedom.
Poppies have been associated with the fallen ever since World War I, when John McCrae, a Canadian amy surgeon, wrote In Flanders Fields from the mud of France in 1915, and the poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifices made by his brothers in arms.
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.
Did you know that poppies grow naturally in disturbed earth? They covered the war-torn battlefields of Europe after World War I, waving their bloody petals across the ravaged ground where so many died. The Royal British Legion took up the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance in 1920, and it's been used to encourage support for the troops ever since.
Jon's at King's Cross today, heading up that branch of the Poppy Appeal, and he's promised to send me photos to share with you. (The one at the top of this post is from early this morning.) Even during the chaos of rush hour at a busy station, it's incredibly poignant to pause for a minute to have a flower pinned to your lapel. If you're in England and you see men and women in uniform (or volunteers like Jon and his friends) handing out poppies, please do stop to thank them and to support the Armed Forces and their families. And, no matter where you are, take a moment to remember of those who have given their lives for us.
If you're in London and want to help with the Poppy Appeal next year, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Jon and others who organize the day. I volunteered a few years ago and it was an incredibly meaningful experience.