Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
Unfortunately, because of the passage of time and the diminishing ranks of those who remember first hand the horrors of war, our future generations may well forget the price we've had to pay to maintain our freedom and democratic way of life. Consequently I think it is appropriate to refresh the memory of those who can recall, and to enlighten those who were probably not aware, that you may pass on to the succeeding generation the significance of the Poppy, 'The Ode" and Lest We Forget.

This moving story of the Poppy was reprinted in the British Legion Journal in November 1956.

THE STORY OF THE POPPY

A pencilled verse in a dugout sparked an idea which has grown into, a practical form of Remembrance that has no equal elsewhere in the world.

It was Colonel John McCrae, a well known professor of medicine at the great Canadian University of McGill who first wrote of the Flanders Poppy as the "Flower of Remembrance''.

Colonel McCrae served as a gunner in the South African..War,,.‑and at the outbreak of the Great War, his desire was to join the fighting ranks, but the Powers that be decided that his great abilities should be used to more advantage, and so he landed in France with the first Canadian contingent as a Medical Officer.

At the second battle of Ypres in 1916 Colonel McCrae was in charge of a small first aid post. During a lull in the battle he wrote in pencil, on a page torn from his despatch book, these verses;

Flower of Remembrance

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 we loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To your from failing hands we throw
The Torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith us who die
We shall not sleep. though Poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

The verses were sent anonymously to PUNCH, who published them in next issue. printing them in the heavy type they only rarely use. The verses were published under the title "In Flanders' Fields".

In May 1918, Colonel McCrae was brought as a stretcher case to one of the big hospitals on the coast of France. On the third evening he was wheeled to the balcony from his room to look over the sea towards the cliffs of Dover. The verses were obviously in his mind, for he said to the Doctor who was in charge of his case;

"Tell them this; If ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep".

An American lady, Miss Moina Michael, read the poem "In Flanders' Fields" and wrote a reply:

"WE SHALL KEEP THE FAITH”

Sleep sweet  to rise anew;
We caught the torch you threw,
And holding high we kept
The faith with those who died.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led.
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flowers that bloom above the dead
In Flanders'  Fields.

And now the torch and poppy red
Wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught,
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders 'Fields.

Miss Michael died in, America in May  1944..

THE ODE

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye. steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted.
They fell with their faces to the foe

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condem.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning­
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust
Move in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end. to the end. they remain.

The above poem by Laurence Binyon, 1869‑1943, was first published in the "London Times” on September, 1914. It won immediate recognition as the expression of the feeling of a generation. (Encyclopaedia Brittanica)

Finally, Bretheren, I would like to read to you a poem which consider epitomises the true spirit of ANZAC.

Who wrote it or when it or when was first published I’m afraid I don’t know, However, it certainly Captures the ANZAC spirit.

ANZAC DAY

I saw a kid a marching with medals on his chest.
He marched alongside Diggers marching six abreast.
He knew that it was ANZAC DAY - he walked along with pride,
He did his best to keep in step with Diggers by his side

And when the march was over the kid was rather tired.
A Digger said,  "whose medals son”?  to which the kid replied:
"They belong to Daddy, but he did not come back,
He died up in New Guinea on a lonely jungle track".

The kid looked rather sad just then and a tear came to his eye,
The Digger said, "Don't cry, my son, and I will tell you why.
Your Daddy marched with us today - all the blooming way.
We Diggers know that he was there it's like that on ANZAC DAY"
The kid looked rather puzzled and didn't understand.
But the Digger went on talking and started to wave his hands,
"For this great land we live in, there's a price we have to pay,
And for this thing called freedom, the Diggers had to pay.

For we all love fun and merriment in this country where we live,
The price was that some soldier his precious life must give;
For you to go to school, my lad, and worship God at will,
Someone had to pay the price so the Diggers paid the bill.

There's some folk around today, my lad, who think it's all for free
Even though there's other countries close at hand on bended knee
They walk around with banners like kids with little toys.
While the enemy just waits around clapping his hands with joy.

They say it's not correct these days to stand up to the foe.
But the old time religions knew where they had to go.
They took the bible with them and the padres led the way.
That's reason now, my son., the church is here to stay.
The Romans thought they couldn't fail but oh how great they fall
It can happen to all peoples, lad! However great or small,
Your Daddy died for us, my son - for all things good and true.
I wonder if you can understand the things I've said to you.

The kid looked up at the Digger ‑ just for a little while,
And with a changed expression, said, with a lovely smile,
"I know my Dad marched here today ‑ this our ANZAC DAY,
I know he did ‑ I know he did, all the blooming way.

Wor Bro L W Boyd
Northern Beaches Daylight         Lodge 987