'In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow' But Will They Grace Your Lapel?

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.
                   -- Canadian John McRae, May 3, 1915

The poppy has become a lightning rod for nationalist politics in Ireland through the decades after the Armistice ended 'The Great War' -- at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Emblematic of mourning for those who died in the war, poppies -- everpresent in British ceremonies marking the war -- were typically eschewed in Ireland. They were, in many minds, a display of solidarity with those countrymen who served Ireland's oppressor. That view was far from universal, though fear of criiticism undoubtedly kept many Irish from displaying the poppy emblem. So we ask, will you be wearing a poppy this Remembrance Day weekend?

Check out The Wild Geese's coverage of Remembrance Day / Veteran's Day


Tags: 20th Century Ireland, Australia, Britain, Canada, Discussions, Events, New, News, War, World War 1, More…Zealand

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What is Sinn Fein doing with Remembrance Day this year? I think one of the biggest dividends garnered from the Good Friday Agreement is the ability to look at the checkered history of Anglo-Irish relations more dispassionately, to no longer feel threatened by partisans' embrace of their respective heritage. If I was in Ireland and had a family member who served in that conflict, I might wear a poppy -- but would I have to duck?

you do see the odd tourist wearing them Gerry, after all its part of their culture, but it not ours.There was talk of wearing a green poppy.  

I am wearing my poppy but not just for the war dead of these islands but for all those who gave 'the last full measure' for liberty and freedom.



Cam, certainly a laudable sentiment. Are you seeing more poppies in the north with the passage of years?

Actually yes, as I am sure I don't need to tell you British and American forces are both in the field fighting and suffering  as we speak. I wear it for the ordinary soldiers not the politicians.

As to Ronan's question I wear it for example in memory of the men in blue who fought againest the scrouge of slavery.The men of the Imperial German army who suffered in the Great War.To the men of the Red Army who died defending the Soviet Union, and my final exaample the Vietnamese who fought to liberate their country from foriegn intervention and the poor bloody GIs who died in Nam as well.. I think there's enough there to keep you going.

Freedom & Liberty are not a monopoly.

Best regards






whose freedom and liberty?

The event is advertised as an event for the fallen in the two world wars but it is much more than that. By wearing the poppy we honour the Black and Tans and all servicemen who fought the Paddies since then. There might be a few chaps from the para regiment who need our financial support so go out buy by a poppy for them.

 In recent years Poppy Day has become poppy month. Why? 

It looks like the poem itself was written by an Irishman--albeit one of Canadian extraction--another iron of history. Irish fought bravely and died bravely in World War I. Even though history's timing was not good for them from a nationalist perspective, they deserve to be remembered and honored. Wearing the poppy is a good way to do this, but wear it green--the color that many more Irish died for through the ages.

Pat O'Toole

I cannot under any circumstances wear this. If there was a seperate Irish symbol (eg Shamrock) for Irish veterans maybe.

It is too closely associated with England! And there is too much propaganda attached to the world wars.

And we too easily forget about the German soldiers and people!

Would America honour Americans who fought against their own people for a foreign power?

I don't see why not I honour both Americans and British who fell in the American War of Independance and the War of 1812. Many Americans honour the dead of both sides and re-enact in their uniforms and carry their flags, including Loyalist units. So it does happen, go to a re-enactment and talk to some of the Americans in red coats and even Loyalists and you will see what I mean.

I have honoured the Irish who fell in the '98 on both sides. One of my ancestors fought and died with  the patriots at the Battle of Ballynahinch. Another about a hundred years later was an Orangeman. But then thats the Irish for you, only shades of grey.

The picture on my posting is an Irishman who was murdered by fellow Irish men not in Ireland but on the streets of New York. On the 13th July 1863. He was the Colonel of 11th New York Vols. (Ellsworths) he lies in an unmarked grave in New York, and died defending the city from the rioters.It would be a nice gesture in the 150th Annivesary that some effort be made for his memory. He had been a Captain in the 155th New York.




Wow.  That's a powerful question, Rónán.  The short answer is…probably not.  I'm a third generation Irish American.  Today I read an article that raised the same issue. I believe it was written by another Irish American.  The author shared your viewpoint.  I believe he said, "I'll wear the poppy when the Brits start wearing the Easter Lily."  I can understand that sentiment.  But at the same time, were the tens of thousands of Irish who lost their lives in the Somme any less Irish than the ones who stayed and fought for Irish freedom at home?  I'm not sure it's fair to say that the Irish who fought in WWI were "fighting against their own people."  Fairer perhaps to say that they were fighting on behalf of their own people, albeit under the cloak of their oppressors.  Maybe that doesn't make it any less palatable for you, and it is your absolute right to feel that way.  But here we're talking about singularly unique times in both world (as well as in Irish) history that happened to intersect spectacularly around 1916. Just a guess, but I would surmise that you have neighbors whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought in the War for Irish Independence, as well as neighbors whose ancestors fought in Europe.  Is a life sacrificed for a cause you happen to believe in somehow more significant than one sacrificed for that which you scorn?  Your decision to make, but in my humble opinion, any man who would sacrifice his life for what he believes is a just cause deserves to be honored.  Death is the great equalizer, and the Irishmen who fought in WWI were to their way of thinking fighting for Ireland as surely as those who stayed home and fought on their own soil for Irish freedom. Would you go so far as to call those men traitors to Ireland?

The poppy is a symbol, and symbols have as much or as little meaning as you personally attach to them.  So as others have so eloquently said earlier in this thread, the meaning you choose to ascribe to it is for you alone to decide.  Personally, I like the idea of the green poppy.  Because it recognizes the Irish lost in WWI, yet likewise honors the spirit of nationalism. Regardless, it's worthy of careful consideration.  Because isn't the way we choose to honor our ancestors inextricably connected to the way we honor (or dishonor) each other?  


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