Jones: Memory and imagination in Flanders Fields

My new Free Range column, Far from Flanders Fields, on Remembrance Day:

F&O Flanders Fields

Photo courtesy of McCrae House, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Creative Commons license

Accounts of Canadian John McCrae, who wrote In Flanders Fields, suggest a man steeped in the romance of war. But it’s at Ypres, where he wrote the poem in 1915, that my imagination falters, along with my tenuous grasp of McCrae’s identity and relevance, and my interest in the tiresome debate over the merits and meanings of his poem.

Would McCrae have approved of being remembered today for In Flanders Fields? Ought his poem be left in peace as a product of his time and place?

Mostly I wonder if McCrae’s soldiers would rest better under their poppies if they knew that others had indeed caught their thrown torch – but used it not for hunting yet more foes and quarrels, but to shed light on war’s causes and cures. 

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