Inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, in which the opening lines refer to poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the soil from soldiers’ graves in the Flanders region of Belgium, these small red flowers were adopted by the National American Legion as their official symbol of remembrance in 1920.
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.
A musical composition of the poem was created by American modernist composer Charles Edwards Ives in 1917. Since then, many iterations of this beautiful poem had been composed and performed; Each capturing the patriotism and tragedy of armed conflict.
Video Credit: Richard Lee (City of San Mateo Finance Director)