"Flanders" Used As Propaganda For Conscription

May 3rd marks the anniversary of the well-known poem, "In Flanders Fields" written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae on this day in 1915. McCrae felt compelled to write the piece after his friend and fellow solider, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed in action in the Second Battle of Ypres. While performing the burial ceremony, he noted the poppies growing around the soldiers' graves.

"In Flanders Fields" became one of Canada's best-known literary works and is recited every year as part of Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country. The poppy has become an iconic memorial symbol of soldiers who have lost their lives in conflict.

Due to the popularity of the poem, it was often used to recruit soldiers and to sell war bonds. In particular, the Unionist coalition showcased the poem frequently during the 1917 federal election campaign. The poem was said to have done more to make the "Dominion persevere in the duty of fighting for the world's ultimate peace than all the political speeches of the recent campaign". (In Flanders Fields: The Story of John McCraeBorden and the Unionist coalition handily beat the Liberals, 153 seats to 82.

In Flanders Fields

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.

 Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

May 3rd, 1915

“Flanders” Used As Propaganda For Conscription