Poppies

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Today is Remembrance Sunday in England, two days before Remembrance Day, November 11, the same day as our Veteran’s Day in America. The occasion here is even more special than usual because they are remembering the 100 year anniversary of the Great War, World War 1, which started in 1914.  On one of our first evenings here, we met the young women and their leaders in the ward, who were cutting out poppies to sell, with the proceeds going to the British Legion. Since then we have seen poppies on many lapels and people selling them at the stores. (Please bear with my fuzziness.)

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IN 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 Flander’s 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, tho poppies grow

In Flander’s fields.

~Liet. Col. John McCrae

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My dear friend Joyce Jensen sent me a stirring email back in September about the Tower of London display of 888,246 poppies. She included these words about World War 1: “It was thought to be the war that would end all future wars. All sides suffered an incredibly high number of needless deaths, and the war devastated an entire generation. In fact, the sheer amount of destruction and death has only been eclipsed by World War II. Since it ended, all countries involved have held memorials to remember their fallen dead who sacrificed their lives for the good of their country.  This fact is all the more so in England, where nearly a million people lost their lives. What they’ve done to commemorate their fallen soldiers is truly beautiful, while also helping us understand the true scope of these soldiers’ sacrifice.  Even a hundred years later, we should not forget their incredible acts of heroism.”

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“The moat that surrounds the Tower of London has long stood empty and dry.  But now, what may look like gushing blood from its very walls, is actually something beautiful. The moat is now filled with 888,246 red ceramic poppies, one for each British and Colonial soldier who perished during World War 1.”

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The brilliance of the red color poppies captures some of the drama, pain and loss connected with each death. Today in our Stroud Ward sacrament meeting a sister who just lost her father three weeks ago gave a stirring tribute to those who died in the war and then asked us to stand and, with all the people of England, have a minute of silence. I thought how the poppies are a symbol of the lost blood of each soldier. It became, for me, a symbol, too, of the Savior’s blood, spilt for each young soldier, and all of us! It seemed fitting that my poppy was pinned next to my missionary badge. I’m so grateful that I can share the restored gospel message of hope that we will live again because of our beloved Savior!I

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