In Flanders Fields John McCrae’s famous poem remembered
It is the arguably the best (and best-known) war poem ever written, one many of us had to memorize in high school English class.
Guelph, Ontario, native John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields has proven to be incredibly popular, if historically contentious. (Some academics have suggested it glorifies war, and it was used as political propaganda, including by Canada’s Unionist Party and PM Robert Borden, to drive enlistment and capture votes.) But its origins are irrefutably sincere. McCrae, a physician, wrote the poem after the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer, during the Battle of Ypres in Flanders, Belgium.
Although initially dissatisfied with it, McCrae allowed the poem’s publication and it became a touchstone for both young soldiers going to war and their families. Canada Post honoured In Flanders Fields with a centenary stamp in 2015, and the Royal Mint has issued several quarters featuring the poppy.
Indeed, the ubiquity of the poppy in Canada around Remembrance Day is largely attributed to the ubiquity of In Flanders Fields, which is invariably read at memorial ceremonies.