Last updateFri, 14 Nov 2014 2pm

Lest we forget

We live in a world of symbols. There are thousands of simple shapes that instantly unlock a wave of images, instructions, relationships and emotions.


Consider, for example the thoughts that are triggered by a skull and crossbones, a red octagon, a pair of golden arches, a six-pointed star, a decorated skull, or a red poppy.

At a glance each of these symbols tells a complete story. We know when a container holds poison. The octagon sign and golden arches both cause us to halt – for an intersection or for a hamburger and fries. The star recalls the faith of the Jews, and the flag of Israel. TwovAs proclaim the presence of others in recovery, while a bold H indicates the location of a hospital. A calavera (skull) exclaims the celebration of Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

During the past century the red poppy has become a constant symbol of service, honor and death. Immortalized by “In Flanders Fields,” the iconic poem written in 1915 by Canadian officer, Col. John McCrae, the poppy has become a symbol of remembrance for British, Canadian and U.S. troops, veteran’s organizations and auxiliaries.

McCrae was inspired and intrigued by the simple poppies which burst into bloom on former battlefields, and that covered the raw, recent graves. The poppy’s roots can lay dormant in the soil for years and then the plants can burst from the earth with hundreds of beautiful blood-red blooms. The officer saw the flowering plant as a symbol of his deep respect for his veteran patients and deceased comrades. It was for them that he wrote the now-famous poem.

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