“We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
in Flanders Fields”


The 11th November is a very special day in our calendar. This year, it is especially unique, as the date numerically lies as 11/11/11. This has never happened since armistice day, and will never happen again in our lifetime.

So what does the poppy represent? Why is it that every year, hundreds of thousands of people put money in to a charity collection box for a small red poppy to wear upon our jackets? What does it represent?

The history of the poppy is very symbolic and it holds a very special meaning for the occasion that it represents. The poppy seed can lay dormant for years until disturbed. The battle that took place in Flanders Field during the Great War disturbed these seeds, which allowed them to germinate and grow in great numbers amongst an environment of sheer devastation, and lack of life. Canadian soldier and doctor, John McCrae noticed that the poppies had sprung around the burial site of the artillery position that he was in. No life was left on Flanders Field in Belgium – it was a site of total despair, yet every spring when the weather was warm, the poppy grew. This was very symbolic for those who were still fighting as it was a sign of hope, light and life.

The 11th November marks the end of the Great War that ended at 11am 11/11/1918, specifically known as Armistice Day. Remembrance day, an alternative name since 1919, holds a 2 minutes silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month for remembering and reflecting upon the courage and the pure selflessness of their actions. The significance of the poppy, as is traditionally worn, marks our respect for these heroes who have fought and for those that lost their lives in the Great War in order to make us free. The poppy holds meaning, not only for those who have fought and died in WW1 and 2, but for those since, and most pressingly today, our boys who are still out in Afghanistan, fighting for us in order to make the world a safer place.

Have you got your poppy yet? Wear it with pride.

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

Discussion5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Hello Julia,

    We would like to use this image on a documentary TV show. Could you email me and let me know how to attain permission? Thank you very much.

  2. avatar
    Barry B Wilbraham

    I produce the quarterly newsletter Wartime News which is a publication first published after the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. I would very much like to use your picture of the Anniversary edition in monochrome.
    We have now produced over 70 editions and all the personal accounts are written by the veterans themselves. You can see the website by going to http://www.wartimenews.co.uk hopefully you will support what I am doing for the veterans. Thank you.

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