Poppies and Remembrance

Poppies and RemembranceI recently received the spring edition of the National Trust magazine.  The front cover carried a faded black and white image of a building in the background contrasting with bright red poppies in the foreground.  The building is Dunham Massey and one of the features in the magazine explains how the house is being transformed back into the Stamford Military Hospital it was in 1917-19.

This is one of a series of nationwide and international events that will be taking place during 2014-18 to commemorate the centenary of World War One. The series of events are being led by the Imperial War Museum, which has a dedicated website entitled 1914.org.

The events will serve to remind us of those who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today as well as reminding us to be grateful for their sacrifice.

The poppy fields as described by the ‘War Poets’ are a poignant reminder to me of the lives that were lost in both World War One and World War Two and also the lives lost in more recent wars.

Poppies to me are a simile of the lives that were lost.  They are vibrant, standing strong and bold yet fragile and defeated by a heavy downfall or a spring breeze.   They remind me of the fragility of peace and freedom and how easily our freedom can be lost.

The 1914 website points out that “one hundred years on we are all in some way connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today.”

Reflection on World War One serves as a reminder of what might have been if the outcome of that war had been different…

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One thought on “Poppies and Remembrance

  1. I LOVE the link you have drawn between poppies and lives lost. Thank you so much. Poetic, beautiful and true.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSoosie

    Growing up in Canada – on Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) – we all wore poppies in our lapels. The metaphors never occurred to me before. What a beautiful reflection…and such a lovely way to connect with those who lost their lives in battle.
    Love learning history thru you!!!
    January 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterMarcie

    Beautiful metaphor. I hadn´t realized that this year is the centenary of the beginning of World War One. Many of my family stories and memories are linked -someway or another- to World War One and mainly, to Civil War here in Spain and World War Two. There are anecdotes, events and true dramas that took place in those moments where members of my family (including my parents and grandparents) were involved. They explain part of our history and have helped me to know better where I am from and to understand some of the subsequent events, not only related to my family circle, but also social events…

    However, I am not sure that this knowledge is passing on to the younger generations… my nephews and nieces know little of my mother´s youth and my students concerns are commonly far from the past. This is quite important to me, not only because is the story of my mother (and of many other persons) and it deserves to be reminded, but also, because it holds a deep meaning related to peace and freedom (and their cost) as you have emphasized so well.

    I wonder if young generations always have given things for granted… but I guess this can be one of the keynotes of our time
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterZena

    Poppies have gained great significance for me, Cherry, ever since moving here to Dutchland 4 years ago. I had no clue they were the symbol of remembrance here in Europe. I lived in California for 12 years where the golden poppy is their state flower. I grew to love poppies of all colors there because they’d grow wild on the sides of the highways. But now they are more important than for how pretty they look. I, too, love the metaphor you’ve given…and the contunued history lessons we’ve learned to expect from you!
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    I just finished reading “The Monuments Men” for my book club, and while this is WWII, the lines that drew WWI to WWII and to all of us as you pointed out are so worth remembering.

    thanks for the informative reminder.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHoney

    From a very young age my grandfather had us buy paper poppies from vets during Remembrance Day and Memorial Day here is the US. He would explain about the poppies and WWI as my family fought in that war, WWII, Spanish American War, Korea and Vietnam. All of these servicemen who sacrificed so much as did their families.

    I love this idea of the 100 year anniversary so we remember our history…a beautiful metaphor these poppies as you so lovingly point out!
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

    Beautiful reminder Cherry, thank you.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusie@Life-Change-Compost.Com

    Those poppies up against a fence in your image make me think of how you can’t stop the beauty by putting up barriers of wire. But your metaphor, Cherry, about those flowers representing the fragility and beauty of the lives of so many is what will stay with me.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

    Hi, Cherry…thank you for bringing this to the foreground…I want to make my way over to see some of these sites sometime in the next four years. I’ve never done that..and I’d like to honour those who fought and those who died fighting for our freedoms. As Marcie mentioned, in Canada, we wear paper poppies on our lapels for Remembrance Day In Canada on November 11th. My uncle fought in WWII..so, I keep the poppy on my mantle all year round to honour him. I have never thought of poppies the way you have described them, as others have already noted, – so poetic, and a powerful metaphor. Thank you.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJuli

    This reminds me of a poem that was set to music. My middle school choir sang it. It was quite an emotional piece…the audience hushed as we performed.

    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.

    –Lt. Col. John McCrae
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

    My daughter is learning about WWI in history right now, so this is quite close in our family right now. The poppy is such a beautiful symbol for all those lives lost in the war, for all the reasons you have mentioned here.
    Such a beautiful photo.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarola

    Love the symbolism of the poppies! “They remind me of the fragility of peace and freedom and how easily our freedom can be lost.” Perfect.
    January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGotham Girl Aka Robin

    This was deeply touching…..I think I need
    to be reminded often.
    Thank you for sharing the wisdom of the war poets
    and those brilliant poppies.
    -Jennifer
    January 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Richardson

    In the small town I grew up in, there is one of the largest Veteran’s Hospitals in the area, and I have many memories from childhood involving the men who fought in these wars (or most likely WWII and after) broken men who walked our streets and never had the lives they should have.
    We always wore poppies for Veteran’s Day, in remembrance.

    Very recently I read a heartbreaking book about today’s veterans, from today’s war, and it broke my heart that we are still fighting, still breaking people with these wars. They all deserve our remembrance, to never be forgotten for what they gave to us. This is a lovely reminder of that fact.
    January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

    Cherry, I love the idea of transforming the Dunham Massey building back into the Stamford Military Hospital which it was in 1917-19 and I regret I can’t see it with my own eyes. From what I read on the websites you provided a link to, the retrospective looks very informational and interesting. Just looking at the old photos makes the time relating a story of all those people, or rather a number of stories… many of which surely deserve our deepest gratitude.
    January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPetra

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