Sunday, 10 November 2013

Poppies on Remembrance Day ...


Poppies which probably have become our most famous wild flower ... particularly at this time of year – Remembrance Day - when we in the Commonwealth countries come to a two minute silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th  month ... 
The common poppy


Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War 1 on that date in 1918.


Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” ... in accordance with the Armistice, signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning, 1918.


World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 ... reference links are available within the Wikipedia paragraphs I have quoted.

Flanders' battle fields

As Wikipedia observes ... at the 11th hour refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11.00 am) World War 1 officially ended with the signing of the Armistice ... which is why we observe Remembrance at eleven o’clock in the morning ... with a two minute silence, when we all stop and remember.


This year I thought I’d remember as well as comment on this great survivor in Flanders fields – the Poppy flower – see John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” ... he wrote about the day after his great friend was lost.

c/o BBC

The corn poppy symbolises war and remembrance – remembering those lost in World War One battles ... as it was the one flower that grew amongst the devastation, as McCrae’s evocative words reflect ...


The Royal British Legion was formed in 1921 and adopted the scarlet corn poppy as its symbol of Remembrance.   


... the poppy is this great survivor and great opportunist that blooms with courage after being lost ... the common poppy which has evolved to produce 60,000 +/- seeds per flower head ...

Showing the geographical area
that was Flanders, with the English
south coast nearby

...  and can wait patiently in the undisturbed soil for many decades – even as much as 50 – 60 years –until disturbance brings the seed to the surface when they can and do germinate.


There are eight species of wild poppy in the UK .. including the Rough, the Opium, the Common and the Prickly ...


The poppy, two varieties of which are truly native, arrived thousands of years ago probably from those early lands where agriculture started ... The Fertile Crescent (Egypt, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, Assyria).

"Ice Pleasure on the City Canal" in 1622 by
Sebastian Vrancx (1573 - 1647).  The Little Ice
Age was in full swing (1550 - 1850)


They are now extremely resilient having evolved to push and fight through crops against other competition ... while those early peoples realised the ‘pretty poppy’ had other uses, such as pain relief.


Poppies have a canny survival system, germinating some seed in autumn for early summer flowers, with the rest flowering, from springtime germination, in the autumn.

Prickly Poppy c/o Sheepdrove Organic Farm

The Prickly Poppy a true native is only found in South-East England on chalk and cannot stand competition from other plants ... it is an elusive flower, being so ‘independent’ ... and will flower early in the morning – then the petals fall off ...


... the prickly body of the plant keeps some competitors at bay – but its survival is being encouraged ... another difficulty as it produces only 200 or so seeds compared to the tens of thousands of the common poppy.


This tough little survivor is the perfect choice as the symbol for Remembrance Day ...  when we now remember all those who have encountered challenges in all the wars we have been involved with ...

Papaver Rhoeas - the three common stages of the poppy -
bud, flower, seed pod (capsule)


... and let us have courage to continue to remember those who have died letting us keep our freedom ...


... and let us have empathy with those wounded and their families ... giving them understanding and appreciation ... not forgetting all the wonderful carers, supporters and friends working tirelessly in the background ...

Drifts of wild poppies c/o BBC

... then let us show similar qualities to our fellow man – wherever they may be ... giving comradeship to all ...


... let us make a difference to others during our lives ... open our hearts to all ... and never forget ...


My 2012 post: entitled Remembrance ... 

My 2011 post entitled:  Lest We Forget - Remembrance Day ... with its two minute silence at 11.00am - where I quote John McCrae's poem in full ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


48 comments:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I hardly ever see poppies here in Kentucky. They're lovely Hilary. I hope you've had a good weekend.

Jo said...

We do get poppies growing here. We also have Remembrance Day in Canada and after the period of silence, the radio plays The Last Post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Here in the US, it's Veteran's Day.
We get some poppies here, usually by the side of the freeway.

Julia Hones said...

Happy Remembrance Day, Hilary.
Those poppies seem to be the symbol of hope.
Gazing at them infuses me with a kind of powerful energy.
Thank you.
May peace, love and understanding prevail in the world.

Milo James Fowler said...

In Flanders Fields... My students used to memorize that poem when I taught history.

Southpaw said...

There are no poppies where I live now, but in California the hill would burst in Golden Poppies.

Here's something that I've always found weird. People here will say, "Happy Veterans Day". I know it's because they want to acknowledge it, and there isn't a standard phrase, but it's seems odd.

River Fairchild said...

Poppies are so lovely! I just realized I haven't seen any poppies since I left California.

For some reason I'd always thought Veteran's Day came from WWII and not WWI so I learned something today! :) It's sad that the world was so horrified by WWI that it was coined "the war to end all wars" and yet another world war happened just a few years later. We as a species still haven't learned to get along.

Inger said...

Once again a beautiful remembrance. As you know, here in the US, we celebrate it too, calling November 11 Veterans Day. What you may not know is that tomorrow, outside every store in our small town, there will be veterans giving out red paper poppies to everyone in remembrance on this day.

Suze said...

Hilary, you are a truly beautiful soul.

Val Poore said...

I love poppies. They are very common here in NL and I adore the colour they splash along the edges of fields. Very apt for this time, Hilary. Thanks for this!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

Beautiful post! Thanks for giving the history behind its use as a symbol for Armistice.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We will be wearing our poppies at the Remembrance Service here tomorrow, but we will also be wearing the French traditional blue cornflower. Have a good week Diane

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's surprising to me how effected I still am whether I see someone wearing a poppy, even now at this age. I'm looking forward to the day we move to New Brunswick so I can watch our son march in the Remembrance Parade. We have so much to be grateful for.

Wonderful post, Hilary.

Mike Goad said...

Veterans Day here, honoring those who served in any conflict.

I remember one particular Veterans Day -- 1967. I was in 2nd year of high school in Houston, Texas, and had joined the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC). We got to march in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Houston, which was quite an experience. What made it more memorable was when everything stopped and a bugler played "Taps," the mournful sound of his bugle echoing off the tall buildings.

Old Kitty said...

Prickly poppy! Now that's a bloom I'd love to see in drifts too!

Wishing you a most thoughtful and reflective Remembrance weekend.

Take care
x

A Lady's Life said...

Happy Remembrance Day!!

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

A timely, thoughtful posting. We shall never forgot the sacrifices made by those who fought for our freedom. And I shall remember those young heroes who have died so recently.

In respectful silence, I shall now leave.

Gary

Betsy Brock said...

never forget!

and bless them all!

Rhonda Albom said...

Really interesting information. Here in New Zealand we have ANZAC day on 25 April, and poppy is the symbol. We didn't have a Remembrance Day today.

Murees Dupé said...

It is so wonderful of you to remember those who have fallen. I don't really see poppies where I live, but your pictures show that they are beautiful.

Patsy said...

Poppies are beautiful, fleeting and fragile. But they're almost impossible to eradicate or ignore. Makes them the ideal symbol of remembrance, doesn't it?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Some of our local organizations give out single poppy blooms on this day. Lovely post.

Lynn said...

Thank you for the reminder about poppies, Hilary. I posted a picture of some poppies photographed in the North Carolina mountains this summer in tribute to my dad today and linked to your post.

Hope you are doing well.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Lovely poppies...and you're right--the tough survivors are the perfect symbol for the day.

TALON said...

I can never look at a poppy - both real and the ones people pin on - without thinking of John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Field". Thank you to all who served and sacrificed and to all who continue to do so.

Madeleine Sara said...

A wonderful tribute Hilary. We held the 11am silence at RNIB and I thought a lot about those who fought in frightening, dismal, muddy battlefields and those who suffered in atrocious concentration camps.

Crystal Collier said...

Beautiful. I had no idea where the date came from. Wow. Thanks for that.

Tara Tyler said...

simple yet powerful!
loved reading about the poppies coming back and surviving to represent life after war, never forget!

lovely!

Julie Jordan Scott said...

absolutely lovely. The California Poppy is our state flower. Its been too long since I've seen them in bloom now... have to wait until Spring - so your post truly brightened up my day!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I always get a huge lump in my throat when I see the poppy petals falling from the ceiling during the Festival of Remembrance.

M Pax said...

That explains the poppies I've seen around the interwebz. Fields of poppies are stunning. There were some farms I drove past a few summers ago - gold & purple poppies. Wow.

Chase March said...

Hi Hilary,

Our school walked to the cenotaph for a service today. It was cold and rained the entire time. Yet, the students stood there quietly and respectfully. It was a nice way to observe the day.

Cheers!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi everyone - I was convinced I'd replied to many of the comments yesterday - but it looks like a blip occurred .. so I'll start again!

@ Keith - I love it when the poppies come out here and drift in, or dot the landscape ...

@ Jo - I watched the Cenotaph Service on tv, but there were many local services going on - ours was in the evening. It's always a moving time .. I saw some of the Ypres ceremony.

@ Alex - yes there are different names now and many more organisations, which are linked to the Services, march to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

Poppies along the freeway - lovely site.

@ Julia - thank you .. it's been a reflective time and the poppy can symbolise hope - the drifts of them in the fields do inspire.

As you say .. let us share peace, love and understanding throughout the world.

@ Milo - it's a lovely poem, sad though, to remind us of WW1 - I'm glad you taught it for history ..

@ Holly - yes I've seen some of the golden California poppies and they are glorious.

I'm not sure what else we could say .. as everyone's circumstances would be so different .. but I can quite see what you mean 'happy' perhaps isn't quite the right word ...

@ River - thanks they are lovely ..

We're so near WW2, we forget this all started with WW1 .. so I'm glad I've enlightened you ..

As you rightly say we do need to have compassion, come to peace together .. ensure we can share all things and thus not war ... I do hope the 21st century comes round to these ideals - it will solve so many other problems ...

@ Inger - yes we have Remembrance Sunday, on the sunday nearest to the 11th, but also acknowledge and remember the 11th with reflective serves. The Cenotaph Service where the wreaths are laid, and the Service organisations and associations march is always on Remembrance Sunday ..

@ Suze - many thanks ...

@ Val - like you those drifts through our fields on similar chalk uplands and rolling grasslands just appear and appeal to our sight-scape ... but the poppy epitomises Remembrance ... as you mention ...

@ Susan - it's good to be reminded of the basic details for Armistice and I learnt new things this year.

@ Diane - I didn't know about the blue Cornflower ... interesting to read about the French tradition. Glad you wore the poppy too ..

@ Joylene - yes I still tear up when I watch the various Remembrance Services. I can imagine you'll enjoy seeing your son march in the New Brunswick parade .. and we do have much to be grateful for ... for all those who served ...

@ Mike - Yes a similar day of respect .. we've kept Remembrance Day as it became after WW1.

The Last Post, your Taps, the marching bands do resonate so much in our minds and memories ... I've never attended a Service with Marching Bands .. but can quite believe and can hear in my mind the mournful sound of the bugle you describe .. very evocative. No wonder you remember that day so vividly ...


Thanks everyone - the last three days always bring evocative memories back ... all who served deserve our respects. Hilary

2nd part following on

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

next part of my replies:

@ Old Kitty - the Prickly Poppy is prickly and demands its own space! But it's a beautiful poppy all the same ... It is a time for reflection .. you are right.

@ A Lady's Life - thank you

@ Gary - there are so many still fighting for our freedom ... and I too remember all the various Service and associated personnel particularly at this time.

Quiet reflection .. so true ..

@ Betsy - never forget, and bless them ... well said ..

@ Rhonda - yes ANZAC day is the day your forces went in to Gallipoli at the start of WW1 .. so it's right you remember that day. But your Ambassador and Commonwealth Commissioner were at the Cenotaph Service on Sunday - as they are each year.

You have a Cenotaph in Auckland ...

@ Murees - the South Africans were with us too at the Remembrance Sunday service ...

@ Patsy - exactly .. sorry about their hanging on in there for you gardeners! We do Remember when we see them appear ...

@ Susan - I saw that a number of American towns give out poppies on this day ...

@ Lynn - thank you .. I saw the post and commented .. that's really kind of you. It was lovely to read about your father ...

@ Elizabeth - they are tough little survivors aren't they .. but perfect for Remembrance time.

@ Talon - always John McCrae's poem comes to the fore in my mind too ... as we remember all those who've served in the intervening 99 years ...

@ Madeleine - so pleased you were with the veterans at the RNIB, and many other Service personnel ... it must have been a truly frightening and ghastly time for so many ... and we will always be grateful that we are free.

@ Crystal - good to see you .. and glad I was able to give you some insight ..

@ Tara - thank you .. the Poppy too is simple, but so so strong as our lost souls have been for us.

@ Julie - the drifts of California poppy are gorgeous to see .. Spring is coming.

@ Annalisa - watching the formal services - the Festival and then the Remembrance Service and this year at Ypres ... the falling petals evoke so much ... I too well up ..

@ Mary - yes .. well at least you know why now ... and fields with masses of poppies running through are stunning aren't they .. gold and purple ones must be gorgeous to see.

@ Chase - I'm sure the schools here remembered and we saw one or two on the tv ... and various Guide and Scout organisations .. when they stood and observed that silence for those who fought for our freedom ...

Thanks everyone - the last three days always bring evocative memories back ... all who served deserve our respects. Hilary

Gattina said...

Prince Philip even came to Belgium yesterday for the commemoration celebrations in Ypres ! He got 70 bags of earth from the battle fields, to create a memory garden in London. I saw that on TV yesterday evening. It's unbelievable that at his age he still travels !

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Well said, Hilary!

Years ago, our neighbor's huge garden had a wonderful patch of gorgeous red poppies. I was astounded when she showed me how tiny their seeds are. Hard to believe something so majestic looking could grow from such a teensy seed.

Juliet Batten said...

I love poppies. They are both fragile and resilient. Monet's paintngs of poppy fields were a favourite of my mother's and also of mine.
Juliet (using someone else's computer as I'm not at home)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - thanks I saw Prince Philip's visit and the reason ...

@ Susan - it is strange that the poppy seed bread is seed that is similar in size ... they are fleeting flowers but give so much .. and are so redolent for our history and especially all those who look after our freedoms for us ..

@ Juliet - hope you're having a lovely time away ...

Monet really loved his poppies didn't he .. and he lived at a time in north-western Paris when there were still fields .. so his paintings show those drifts of poppies through the landscape ...

Thanks so much for visiting - the poppy is such an evocative symbol for Remembrance Day .. Hilary

Manzanita said...

Holy Moly, I never knew that about the 11th hour. Now I get it..... whenever I go to an Elks club, they always have a little ringing of the bells and a ceremony at 11 o''clock. We used to call it by other names too. Just Poppy Day, sometimes and one year there was a sudden huge snow storm and many hunters got trapped and died so in our area we often say, the day of the big snow storm. I always sold the poppies for my father's organizations.

mail4rosey said...

I did see where Poppy flowers and Remembrance Day were being mentioned a lot together. I'm glad to have learned more about it!

I agree, we must never forget. The service our military men and women offer is selfless, and never an easy thing to do.

Deniz Bevan said...

I've missed reading your blog, Hilary!
A good idea, to talk a bit about the poppy on this day. I watched our Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa and got very teary. Thinking of all those individuals and families and their everyday heroism in WWI and WWII always gets me teary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Manzanita - well delighted I've enlightened you .. it was interesting to write about the history. How sad to read about the big snow storm and those trapped hunters.

Memories of your father too at this time of year ...

@ Rosey - glad you too learnt a little bit more and the reasons for Remembrance/Poppy Day ...

... and yes we must never forget.

@ Deniz - well that's wonderful to know .. thank you!

Thinking back on the sacrifices so many made at this time, like you, brings tears to my eyes - and when I watch these sorts of Services and our traditions ...

Thanks everyone - it is good to remember and understand why we do things ... all the best Hilary

loverofwords said...

Such a poignant poem. I delayed in writing a blog about Remembrance Day, but knew you would and would add this poem. Those words say it all.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tasha .. John McCrae's poem is incredibly evocative - and I needed to get it down into the blog - so at least I could easily find it ..

Thanks for coming by ..it's essential to remember those who keep us free ... Hilary

Tina said...

Beautifully written. On November 11th we celebrate Veterans Day, remembering all who have ever served, regardless of conflict. I wonder if the date was picked for the same reason - it's not mentioned.
I love poppies, and they are hardy indeed. In our other house I had yet to discover the joys of gardening, yet we had a huge section of poppies that sprang up every year and were so lovely to have. I didn't lift a finger. They were bright orange, the most common color around here.
Tina @ Life is Good

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Tina - thankfully many Services of Remembrance are held around the world - the 11th November was when the Armistice Treaty was signed by the Allied Powers ... Wiki has some good maps and explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_I - hence that was when war ceased ... for then.

Poppies are good providers of light through the unloved ground! The orange poppies are I think more common in the States and make as big a statement amongst other plants.

So pleased you enjoyed it .. thanks .. Hilary

Sara said...

We almost never poppies were I am, but I did see a lot in Switzerland.

This line floored me: "and can wait patiently in the undisturbed soil for many decades – even as much as 50 – 60 years –until disturbance brings the seed to the surface when they can and do germinate."

That's one determined flower!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. the poppies in Switzerland will stand out so well on those steep inclines - it's a beautiful part of the world ..

I was surprised about the seed holding off until it was disturbed, which it then flowered ... nature is quite extraordinary in letting its own protect itself .. I love learning things like this ..

Thanks so much for catching up with comments and glad you're better .. cheers Hilary