On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice signed by the Allied nations and Germany went into effect, ceasing hostilities in 1918 during the Great War. It's a memorable collection of 11's to help remember the importance of this date, and I admit, it's surprising how many people don't realize the historical significance of the date. While we should never forget the sacrifices of those who gave their lives during World War I, nor those who continue to take up arms in defense of their nations today, it's important to realize why Veteran's Day is also known as Armistice or Remembrance Day. It's a day shared by the world.
What we call Veteran's Day is also known as Poppy Day, typically in Commonwealth countries. You'll often see people in England or Canada wearing red poppy pins -- it represents the fields of bright red poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders during the Great War. Amid such chaos and violence, a startling number of poppies bloomed, their hue being a telling representation of bloodshed.
The story of the poppy and its connection to veterans is reflected in the famous poem by John McCrae, In Flander's Field, which speaks of the battles and lives lost.
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.
Whether you wear a red poppy in remembrance or not, keep the knowledge of sacrifice in your mind, and consider the true cost of war. We truly honor the dead by maintaining the value of life, for ourselves and others.
Jaunty Fine Print: Illustration by Denise Sakaki