TO YOU FROM FAIL­ING HANDS WE THROW THE TORCH

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - ONTARIO NEWS -

Hi Fel­low Se­niors: Lieu­tenant Colonel John McCrae penned these words dur­ing the fight­ing in Flan­ders, Bel­gium in the First World War. He was born in Guelph, On­tario and was a Cana­dian poet, physi­cian, au­thor, artist and sol­dier. When Bri­tain de­clared war on Ger­many at the start of World War 1, Canada, as a Do­min­ion within the Bri­tish Em­pire, was at war as well. McCrae was ap­pointed as Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer and Ma­jor of the lst Brigade CFA (Cana­dian Field Ar­tillery). He treated wounded dur­ing the Sec­ond Bat­tle of Ypres in 1915 from a hastily dug 8 foot by 8 foot bunker dug in the back of the dyke along the Yser Canal.

On May 2, 1915, John’s close friend was killed by a Ger­man shell. That evening John buried his friend in com­plete dark­ness for se­cu­rity rea­sons as there was no min­is­ter present. On May 3,1915, Sgt. Ma­jor Al­li­son was de­liv­er­ing mail to John and found him seated in the back of an am­bu­lance writ­ing the now well­known poem Flan­ders Field. ‘He was very tired and calm and as he wrote he looked around from time to time to­wards his friend’s grave.” Within mo­ments he had com­pleted the poem and then handed it to Al­li­son who said it was the ex­act de­scrip­tion of what they saw. IN FLAN­DERS FIELD THE POP­PIES BLOW BE­TWEEN THE CROSSES, ROW ON ROW THAT MARK THE PLACE AND IN THE SKY THE LARKS STILL BRAVELY SINGING FLY SCARE 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 FIELD 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 FIELD On Jan­uary 28, 1918 while com­mand­ing No. 3 Cana­dian Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal at Bologne, John McCrae died of pneu­mo­nia. He was buried the fol­low­ing day at Wimereux Ceme­tery with full mil­i­tary hon­ours. His flag draped cof­fin was borne on a gun car­riage and the mourn­ers in­cluded Sir Arthur Cur­rie (Cana­dian Hero of World War 1.)

Our Vet­er­ans de­serve to be hon­oured and re­mem­bered –not just on Novem­ber 11th but all year long. If you meet a Vet­eran please shake his hand and say “thank you for your ser­vice”.

Bye for now and wher­ever you hap­pen to be on Novem­ber 11 at 11:00 am, please stop what you are do­ing and ob­serve TWO MIN­UTES OF SI­LENCE to hon­our those who sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing.

Dorothy Wil­son is a free­lance writer spe­cial­iz­ing in se­nior’s is­sues. Com­ments are wel­come by e-mail­ing wil­son1@isp.ca or writ­ing c/o St.Thomas TimesJour­nal, 16 Hncks Street, St.Thomas, On.

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