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 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

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Kurn
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PostSubject: 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.   Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:50 pm

Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth; Armistice Day in Europe; Veterans Day in the United States.

Let's all take a minute to remember those that made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their countries and those who served in all those wars that make Man's history.


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John McCrea, MD, Brigade Surgeon of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery Brigade wrote in the spring of 1915, during the second Battle of Ypres (April 22, 1915) one of the most memorable war poems ever written: "In Flanders Field".

"In Flanders Field" was written in the aftermath of the first use of chemical weapons in combat (Chlorine gas attack by Germany), McCrea described it as:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

Born in Guelph, Ontario and resident of Montreal, Quebec, Dr. McCrea served at Montreal General Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital as well as being a teacher at MCGill University Faculty of Medicine. Dr. McCrea wrote the poem after a young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain. A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly."His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."


When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:


"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."


Every year, approximately two weeks before Remembrance Day, November 11, The Royal Canadian Legion conducts its annual Poppy & Remembrance Campaign. The campaign is designed to raise funds for needy Canadian ex service members and their dependents as well as Commonwealth veterans of World War II who may be eligible for assistance.


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Alan Seeger, American poet, soldier of the Légion Étrangère, died fighting for freedom in France in World War I. His poem "I have a Rendezvous with Death" is a classic the mindset of a professional soldier facing the ultimate sacrifice.

A letter he wrote in 1915, in which he says:

"Death is nothing terrible after all. It may mean something more wonderful than life. It cannot possibly mean anything worse to the good soldier."

"If it must be, let it come in the heat of action. Why flinch? It is by far the noblest form in which death can come. It is in a sense almost a privilege. . . ."

is almost prophetic: Allan Seager died in combat at Belloy-en-Santerre shortly after writing "I have a Rendezvous with Death.". He is one of the heroes of the Legion and his memory is kept alive by his brothers of the Foreign Legion. He died a warrior, fighting for freedom on the 4th of July 1916, Independance Day, nine months before United States enter World War I (on April 6th, 1917)...

Legio Patria Nostra !


Young legionary, enthusiastic and energetic, liking France passionately. Volunteer at the beginning of the hostilities, showed during the campain admirable spirit and courage. Fallen on July 4, 1916.
(Citation "à l'Ordre du jour" of Morocco Division, December 25, 1916.)


Read his letters and diary at http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/memoir/Seeger/Alan1.htm


Last edited by Kurn on Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:41 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : made it longer...)
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