Monday, November 14, 2011

11.11.11 / "In Flanders Fields"

I saw many people wearing this pretty red paper flower in London and that was when I first heard the story of the Poppy Flower and Armistice Day. I asked my host and he told me that the flowers are bought for whatever amount of money - that goes to charity – and worn in honor to the end of the war and the ones who died on it.

The following week, my host dad told me that he would really like me to come along with them on Armistice Day and we visited the Harlebeke New British Cemetery, where a lot of English, Canadian, Australian and other soldiers from the Allied side are buried.

War has always been a foreign concept for me because 1) I don’t believe or understand the reasons why human beings do such thing and 2) war has never struck Brasil so hard that it’s imprinted in my history, in my family, in my beliefs. For that reason, I spent some time hesitating between wearing the Poppy Flower or not but decided to do it. As I talked to my host family I understood how grateful they are for the soldiers who came all the way from overseas to help them free their land. I also gave some thought and decided that I should respect the courage and faith they put on what they truly believed and at last, I prayed for the shattered families and broken hearts caused by the war.

The following poem is the origin of the Poppy Flower tradition. It was written by John McCrae (it’s said that after he saw his friend die in battle).

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
      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

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