In Flanders Field . . .

Today is Veterans Day.  The date commemorates the ending of the First World War on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.  The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first "Armistice Day", as it was then known:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

A custom arose among allies of wearing poppies in remembrance of the soldiers who were killed in the Great War.  Why poppies? The association was inspired by a very popular poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poem opens with these lines:

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

John McCrae did not live to see the end of the war. He died of an illness in France in 1918.

It has been 100 years since the start of the First World War in July 1914.  The United States did not declare war until April, 1917.  England is commemorating the centennial by installing 888,246 brilliant red ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.  The BBC has published these stunning pictures.

More than 4 million American soldiers served in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.  The last of these Doughboys, Corporal Frank Buckles, died in 2011 at the age 0f 110.

California is currently home to 1,851,570 veterans, including 1,387,510 who are wartime veterans.

Today is Veterans Day.  Let’s all remember and honor the service of the men and women who have served our country.