Poppies for Sandy Hook

Editor’s Note: A year ago, I asked my mother to paint me a picture of Flander’s Field. Then I gave her the poem penned during WWI by John McCrae, a Canadian physician. McCrae wrote it in honor of a dear friend who died during the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium, where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war.  Because of the damage done to Flander’s Field due to the fighting, nothing would grow except for stubborn red poppies.

My mother, a war widow herself, was unaware of the poem or the history behind  it, or its popularity among soldiers, but she painted me the lovely picture below. The guns mentioned in the poem take on a different meaning when applied to the Sandy Hook massacre.  But the sentiments expressed seem fitting on this day, one week out from a national nightmare of epic proportions. We Shall Keep the Faith was written by a university professor as a promise to the dead that spans across the ages — a promise to do better.

I’ve taken the liberty to tweak the original poem from Flanders Field to Sandy Hook, otherwise the poems are intact.



In Sandy Hook

In Sandy Hook the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among 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 Sandy Hook.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If yea break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Sandy Hook.


We Shall Keep the Faith

by  Moina Michael ‘

Oh! you who sleep in Sandy Hook,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Sandy Hook

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Sandy Hook

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  • John in PDX


  • AFRoger

    Red poppies grew wild along the roadsides in Turkey where we once lived. Red poppies among olive groves. Ancient life continuing.

    There’s an Advent hymn quietly hiding in many of our hymnbooks: “Each Winter As the Year Grows Older”. I wonder now if we have the courage and the humility to sing it and pray it. See: http://koinepdx1.blogspot.com/

    The old church calendar has some substance to it that can sustain us in these days. Mourning. Remembrance. Lament. Prayer. Hope. All together.