Remembrance Poppies

The Common or Flanders Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) grows abundantly in Flanders and Northern France, especially in the disturbed ground of the First World War battlefields. They were popularised through the patriotic poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by Lt-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician. Since the end of the First World War, the poppy has been used across the Commonwealth as a symbol of remembrance for the fallen.

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. 

Artificial poppies have been made ever since, their scarlet colour signifying the blood spent in defence of our country. Every 11 November, the RSL sells artificial poppies to support their charitable activities in favour of ex-servicemen and women.

The Australian War Memorial’s education program has a simple yet effective pattern for making poppies from red and black crepe paper and green florist’s wire – about two hundred were made for Tramway Anzacs, as background for a display. Three people laboured for around six hours on producing the flowers. The result in the display cabinet is quite effective, making it difficult to believe the materials only cost $15.