TO YOU FROM FAILING HANDS WE THROW THE TORCH
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 email@example.com or writing c/o St.Thomas TimesJournal, 16 Hncks Street, St.Thomas, On.