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David R Arnott, msnbc photoblog: Britain marks the 90th anniversary of its remembrance poppy appeal

Britain marks the 90th anniversary of its remembrance poppy appeal
David R Arnott, November 11, 2011

A woman views crosses in Scotland’s first Field of Remembrance in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh on November 7, 2011. Volunteers helped plant approximately 11,000 remembrance crosses as a temporary memorial to mark the 90th anniversary of the Scottish Poppy Appeal. photo by Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

The wearing of poppies in honor of the war dead is common in Canada and the United Kingdom, though the practice was initiated by an American, Moina Michael, who was inspired by the 1915 poem ‘In Flanders’ Fields’ by John McCrae. In the United States poppies are traditionally worn on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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.

The Royal British Legion, a veterans’ welfare charity, says that last year’s poppy appeal raised over £36 million ($57 million) for British veterans and their families.


The power of the poppy to fire emotions is illustrated by a couple of minor recent storms in the British press. The English and Welsh soccer teams’ request to wear a poppy on their shirts this weekend was refused by Fifa, the sport’s governing body,sparking outrage in some quarters. A compromise was later reached allowing the players to wear poppies on black armbands.


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