Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lest We Forget....

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condem
At the going down of the sun, & in the morning we will remember them.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Remebrance Sunday is always the Sunday nearest to November 11th. This is because the Armistice which sealed the end of the First World War was signed at 11 am on November 1th, 1918 ~ the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The First World War was a very terrible conflict which “put out the lights all over Europe”, saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men, toppled monarchies, ushered in the modern era. People in our country & in the commonwealth who had lost sons & husbands & friends wanted a national commemoration & mourning ~ & so the idea came about of observing two minutes silence annually at the 11th hour on november 11th. The two minutes silence has become part of our national calender, although now it is not observed on the 11th, but on the Sunday nearest to that date.
Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France. The poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation.John McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote these verses:

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
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.
‘Flanders Poppies’ are worn ~ replicas of those that bloomed on the terrible muddy battlefields in that war. When we wear a poppy it should be to remind us to pray for those who have died in the two World Wars & other conflicts. We need to remember their great sacrifice & thank God for the freedom we have in our country.

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