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Doctor John McCrae, a Canadian wrote a poem in 1915 called “In Flanders Fields”, in which he describes how the only thing that continued to grow in the aftermath of the devastation was the Poppy. Moina Michael, an American with the YMCA was so moved by the poem that she sold some poppies to her friends and donated the money that she raised to servicemen in need. In 1918 Moina wrote a poem in reply to “In Flanders Fields” entitled “We Shall Keep Faith”. According to her Poem, she promised to wear a Poppy in “memory of our dead” and so the tradition of wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day was born.

A French Woman called Madame Guérin had an idea of making artificial poppies and selling them in order to raise money for areas of France that were devastated in the Great War. The Memorial Poppy was proclaimed the United States National Emblem of Remembrance at the American Legion Conference in 1920. Guérin sold millions of Poppies made by French women throughout the US in the name of the American and French Children's' League and in 1921 Madame Anna Guérin travelled to Canada, where she met with representatives of the Great War Veterans Association of Canada, this organization later became the Royal Canadian Legion, and they adopted the poppy as its national flower of remembrance on 5th July 1921. She also sent French women to London to sell poppies, and she persuaded Earl Haig that the Flanders Poppy should be adopted as a symbol of Remembrance by the British Legion.

In 1922 the founder of the Disabled Society, Major George Howson, suggested to the British Legion that members of his society could make the poppies thus creating the Poppy Factory, which produces 36 million poppies today. The Poppy Factory provides employment for many people who suffer from chronic illness in addition to raising funds to help approximately 5.5 million ex service persons and 7.5 million relatives of ex service personnel.


In Flanders Fields

(by John McCrae 1915)

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.


We Shall Keep the Faith

(by Moira Michael 1918)

We Shall Keep the Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.