EDMONTON — One-hundred years after it was written, Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s iconic poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ continues to be a large part of Canada’s history and this weekend, it was honoured at a ceremony in Edmonton.
A bronze plaque etched with McCrae’s hand-written words was unveiled at Flanders Field Park in Griesbach Sunday morning. Two story boards were also showcased, one explaining how McCrae came to write the poem during the Second Battle of Ypres and the other explaining how his poem and the poppy became the symbol of remembrance.
“It’s a poem that tells people about why the soldiers were there and it talks about the lives cut short. The Great War, the First World War, an entire generation was lost during that war,” said Lt.-Col. Roger Scott.
“To think of an entire generation wiped out and cut down in its prime, you need to remember that. And this war that was supposed to end all wars and yet we’re still going off to conflict and and conflict still rages around the world.”
Watch below: Ceremony to mark 100th anniversary of ‘In Flanders Fields’
Dozens of people attended the ceremony, including military personnel and dignitaries. On a former military base, those in attendance said Griesbach is a fitting location for the honour.
“To have a park like this that’s dedicated to Flanders Fields, there’s also a portion that is dedicated to our Air Force and the rich military history that Edmonton has, I think it just means the world here,” said Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Gord Steinke, “not just to Edmonton, but also for Alberta, for the country.”
Clint Felkar, who lives a few blocks away, brought his children to the ceremony. He said it’s important to teach them about our country’s history because as time goes, by he believes some of it is getting lost.
“I think it’s important for them to remember how we’re able to be free and what the poppy really means to all of us,” he said. “All of us need to give thanks to the veterans for what they’ve done for us and to teach our kids why we do these things and why everything is important.”
The words of McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ have been posted below:
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
Source: Guelph Museums