Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Poppies, Veterans and Art: Why Together?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
When I was a kid I used to see World War II veterans selling poppies for $1 and I never understood why, until I went to Normandy, France in 2012.  I went on a whirlwind ten-day tour of Paris, Normandy and Brittany with the singer in my husbands band and her student charges. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime and when we visited the Normandy beaches and I saw the thousands of graves- British, Canadian and American, I was moved to tears.

 I hate war like most people, but when I thought about the sacrifice that the men made there and what the world might be like right now if they hadn't, it just took my breath away. Along the way to those beaches and on the road to Mont Saint Michel there were fields upon fields of beautiful poppies.

The wearing of poppies became popular  with this poem written in 1915  by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada's First Brigade Artillery.
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 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.

The poppy has been used as a symbol of remembrance of many wars. It rises from scourged earth, a remembrance of shed blood but also a thing of deep beauty and resilience. It is traditionally worn on Memorial day.

 The poppies invaded my brain ever since that visit and that is why they are showing up in my paintings and on my pottery. They are a happy flower motif, but also the symbol of bravery and sacrifice.
Normandy Cows and Poppies

In honor of those who died in British service, an artist recently installed 888,246  ceramic poppies in the moat around the Tower of London. The installation is called "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red"  and has raised millions of dollars for British veterans.

Even though the poppy is traditionally worn on Memorial Day, I thought it would be nice to honor those who served with the symbol of the poppy this Veteran's Day.

 I invite you to post a tribute to our American service both people living and dead by posting a poppy of your own to my Facebook page. 

Draw it, paint it, collage it, make it from clay, words, whatever. Let your creativity shine and show some love for the people who serve and have given us so much! (No stock photos please, but if you would like to attach the name of a soldier you would like to honor please do). 

Please post by Veteran's day Nov. 11, 2014
Poppy Yarn Bowl

Here's where to post: www.facebook.com/risingstarart