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Veterans Day and the Poppy

Posted on Nov 06, 2015 by tayo  | Comments (0)

Blog contributed by Fiona Davis, Ceramics Director at ArtisTree


In Flanders Field

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.

- John McCrae, Poet, Physician and Soldier

Hand made ceramic lapel poppy, by Fiona Davis

Note that the leaf, if there is one, should be worn at 11 o’clock to signify the date and time of the signing of Armistice, on either left or right and generally in the two weeks leading up to Veterans Day, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day (depending on where you live).

We Shall Keep The Faith

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

- Moina Michael, Professor and Volunteer, Originator of the Silk Poppy

Commemorative Stamp of Moina Michael

Inspired by "In Flanders Fields," American professor Moina Michael wrote a poem in response called "We Shall Keep the Faith." She resolved at the war's conclusion in 1918 to wear a red poppy year-round to honour the soldiers who had died in the war. She distributed silk poppies to her peers and campaigned to have them adopted as an official symbol of remembrance by the American Legion.  A french woman, Madame E. Guérin attended the 1920 convention where the Legion supported Michael's proposal and was herself inspired to sell poppies in her native France to raise money for the war's orphans. In 1921, Guérin sent poppy sellers to London ahead of Armistice Day, attracting the attention of Field Marshal Douglas Haig. A co-founder of The Royal British Legion, Haig supported and encouraged the sale and the practice quickly spread throughout the British Empire.

In 1926, a member of the No More War Movement suggested the making and wearing of white poppies to remember casualties of all wars, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars. The first white poppies were sold by the Co-operative Women's Guild (UK) in 1933. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) took part in their distribution from 1934, and white poppy wreaths were laid from 1937 as a pledge to peace and that war must not happen again. Anti-war organisations such as the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship now support the White Poppy Movement.

White Peace Poppy

2014 was the centenary of the beginning of WW1. To commemorate the lives lost a massive public art installation was designed and constructed around the Tower of London, in the UK.

Titled Blood Swept lands and Seas of Red, from a poem by an unknown soldier, the installation is made up of over 800,000 ceramic poppies. Each poppy was made by hand using English clay and each poppy represents a serviceman killed during the war. The staked poppies pour out of the “Weeping Window” in the Tower and cascade around the moat.

South Woodstock resident, Diana Hayes, gave a presentation last Spring to the Thompson Senior Center, about the ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London that marked the centenary of the start of World War I. Conversations led to a collaboration between the Thompson and Artistree Ceramics Studio and a 2 session ceramics class was organised to make red Remembrance Poppies and white Peace Poppies.

Participants made a staked poppy and a small poppy that could be worn.

The Thompson will join a growing number of Poppy Projects around the world and create a small installation of the completed poppies on the front lawn on Tuesday, November 10, in honor of our Veterans (we will be closed on November 11). 

The first batch of Thompson poppies from the kiln, ready to be staked for Veterans Day.

For further reading and viewing:

Tower of London Poppies

Historic Royal Palaces

The Making of the Poppies

Gosford Poppy Project, Australia

White Poppies



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