Where the idea of the poppy came from…

Today in History

John McCrae was a physician and amateur poet from Guelph, Ontario. Following the outbreak of WWI, McCrae enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the age of 41. He had the option of joining the medical corps based on his training and his age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as gunner and medical officer. McCrae had previously served in the Boer War, this would be his second tour of duty in the Canadian military.

Red PoppyMcCrae fought in one of the most horrendous battles of WWI, the second battle of Ypres, in the Flanders region of Belgium. Imperial Germany launched one of the first chemical attacks in history, attacking the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915. The Canadian line was broken but quickly reformed, in near-constant fighting that lasted for over two weeks.

Dr. McCrae later wrote to his mother, describing the nightmare. “For seventeen…

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