‘In Flanders Field’ symbolizes fallen warriors

Every May, VFW Post 2471 members can be seen at local stores distributing red poppies to symbolize the blood of American troops lost to war.

The poppies have been associated with fallen warriors since World War I, when they grew on graves in the area straddling the Belgian province of West Flanders and East Flanders.

Scientists explain the growth of the poppies by saying the churned-up graves in Flanders Field greatly increased the lime content of surface soil, leaving the flowers as one of few plants able to grow in the region.

A war poem called “In Flanders Fields” was written during WWI by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to pen the poem on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

“In Flanders Field” was first published in December of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.

McCrae’s poem has become one of the most popular and quoted from the war. The remembrance poppy is one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.

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