Remembrance Day. Why poppies?

It’s November 11th, Remembrance Day. A day to commemorate the valiant ones who fought in WW1 and subsequent wars. But one thing have always remained a mystery to me, why poppy?

Poppy is a flower that grow naturally in Western Europe. Apparently, after conflicts were fought on the fields during the Napoleonic wars which damages the soil condition, the only plant that were still able to grow were the red poppies. They surround the bodies of fallen soldiers and grew on their graves. But its significance as a memorial symbol came about a poem by war surgeon John McCrae’s ‘In Flander’s Field’.

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.

(Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields)

The poem which was written from the perspective of the dead thrusts hope to others to live on.

Did you know that the Remembrance Poppy is different in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the ones in Scotland? The ones in Scotland are curled and have four petals with no leaves whereas the ones in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the poppies have 2 petals, a green paper leaf and are mounted on a green plastic stem.

Reference

BBC-Remembrance- Why the Poppy? (2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/remembrance/how/poppy.shtml. Accessed on 11th November 2012.

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