Toronto. As a school kid in the dying days of World War 2, we took the minute of silence at 11 am on November 11th seriously. Every child knew John McCrae’s poem by heart:
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
And every child wore a poppy even if they had no idea who Dr McCrae was or where Flanders Fields were. Later, after the war, I gained an aunt from Belgium who grew up in Flanders, and in high school I learned just who Dr John McCrae was and how his epic poem came about.