Lest we forget.
The above is an extract from a poem called "For the Fallen" and was written in 1914 by Laurence Binyon. London-born Binyon wrote it 7 weeks after the outbreak of World War 1. British newspapers teemed with the news of the dead who'd fallen in battle, and it was against the backdrop of these bleak days that he wrote this poem. This verse, known today as The Ode for the Returned and Services League [RSL], has been recited at all military commemoration services for almost the last century. 'Lest we forget' is usually intoned at the end as a mark or respect and gratitude for those who served.
There are two such services for which we most associate this poem with: ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. Today is, of course, the latter.
Remembrance day is held in all Commonwealth Nations on the 11th day of the 11th month. Also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day, it marks the formal end of the hostilities of World War 1. The treaty was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. To mark the occasion, we hold a minute silence at 11am every Remembrance Day to reflect on the people and the service animals who gave their lives in the line of duty. Many other non-Commonwealth countries hold variously named days of remembrance on the same date.
The red poppy has become a symbol of remembrance for this and many other national days of remembrance. This stems from the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The opening lines depict the scene of former WWI battlefields in Flanders covered in the striking flower. 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.
The poppies were usually the first flowers to emerge from the soldiers' graves after battle. The battles waged in Flanders over time increased the lime content in the soil, something poppies thrive on. So their dominance across the battlefields wasn't just in spite of the war, it was actually because of it.
Today's feature, as a mark of remembrance, shares with you all some of the most striking poppy art from the Artisan Craft galleries.