18 May 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.” Isaiah 40:7 (KJV)
Flowers have often been used to symbolize sacrifice – the red, red rose the sacrifice of love; the red poppy the flower of ultimate sacrifice of patriotic service; and the blue Flower of Culloden Moor representing the blood-soaked soil from which the flower sprung up after the Battle of Culloden Moor. It was the last blood of the Stuarts that fell on the soil to provide the necessary nutrients for this flower to grow where it had not grown before. It is the one flower that thrives on spilt blood as a fertilizer for its growth.
Practically every nation has its flower of sacrifice. For America, the red rose seems too beautiful and romantic to symbolize the sacrifice it may represent in other lands, so, for America, the Red Poppy has come to represent that flower. The sense of the sacrifice represented by the poppy derives from that famous poem we all memorized in our youth of the 40’s and 40’s – ‘On 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.
The poem was written shortly after the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915 as it author contemplated the poppies blooming upon the bloody fields of Flanders. LTC John McCrae was a Canadian doctor who volunteered for service during that terrible conflict. He died at his duty station of pneumonia in 1918 performing his duties in commanding a field hospital.
Today, the Red Poppy is distributed by veterans’ groups in the United States and Canada on Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedoms.
Though Caesar has never been one of my favorite men of war, I do like the sentiments expressed in this verse from my favorite classical poem entitled, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropped in her Lap from some once lovely Head.
I believe all brave soldiers who have shed their blood in defense of their motherland deserve all the laud and honor of Caesar’s brow save the brutish fame of Caesar.