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Haunting poem reminds of World War I carnage

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor and remember everyone who has served in the armed forces.

All of us should not forget the sacrifices people make to wear the uniform of the United States.

What a great many people don’t know is that Veteran’s Day, as it is currently celebrated, was originally known as Armistice Day. It was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that the guns fell silent in 1918, ending the war that was expected to end all wars, World War I.

Everyone who participated in that hideous conflict or otherwise bore witness has passed on, quite probably among the primary reasons the conflict has receded into history. There is one very good way to get a sense of what the so-called Great War was like: reading a poem penned by John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician who saw firsthand the carnage of the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium: “In Flanders Fields.”

McCrae, who died of pneumonia in 1918, is said to have been moved to writting the poem by the death of a friend in that battle.

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.