Lt. Col. John McCrae (1872-1918) was born in Ontario and wrote Canada's beloved 15-line poem In Flanders Field (1915) while stationed in Flanders, Belgium during World War I.
McCrae threw away the first draft of the poem and a fellow officer retrieved it and submitted it to several publications in England. When published in Punch magazine with a rarely-used bold type, the poem became an immediate international success. Flanders Field inspired soldiers and struck a chord in the hearts of patriots at home.
McCrae was one of the 635,000 Canadians who enlisted. A caring artillery and medical officer, he was inspired by the Second Battle of Ypres, "17 days of Hades," he described in horror, as in the trenches he watched his close friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer die of shrapnel wounds. McCrae buried his beloved friend amid poppies in a grave marked by a simple wooden cross. He then wrote the vibrant poem in 20 minutes.
Because of McCrae's inspiration, bright red poppies are still used by veterans around the world to honor and remember those who have died in wars. Millions of tiny red poppies are the living tribute and promise of remembrance for those who fight for freedom.
Remember and honor.