remembrance

About a month before my Aunt passed away I got this done.

One night I decided to get a tattoo of “Love Always” in her handwriting. So I ran up to her room and asked her to write those words on a piece of paper. She had no clue what I was doing with it.

And so I went out and got it done.

I came home and showed her and said that normally people get something like this done after someone passes away but I wanted my Aunt to see it. I wanted her to know that I would remember to love always.

Image: The original, 1963 cover of Clifford the Big Red Dog. (Scholastic)

More than 50 years after he came up with a story about Clifford the Big Red Dog, artist and author Norman Bridwell has died.

In 2012, Bridwell told NPR’s Scott Simon that he “was shocked when [Clifford] was accepted for publication, because I’d never written anything before.” When his wife suggested he follow up by writing another story about Clifford — and maybe even two or three — the author answered, “Oh, no. This is just a fluke.”

The gigantic dog went on to anchor a series of books that has spread into TV and beyond. More than 129 million copies of his Clifford books have sold since then, and an animated series based on the books is aired in 65 countries.

Read more here.

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Remembrance ceremony held to mark 73rd anniversary of attack

Veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack are gathering for the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese bombing that launched the United States into World War II. About 100 Pearl Harbor and World War II survivors are expected to attend Sunday’s ceremony. Many of them arrived well before the sun came up. (AP)

Find more news-related pictures on our photo galleries page.

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
— 

— Poet Mark Strand, who died this weekend. The Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Poet Laureate was 80.

His work was spare, unflinching, clear-eyed — the kinds of poems that linger with you. The one that haunts me, personally, is Lines for Winter. It’s both beautiful and brutal, with a last line that twists and changes every time I read it: “Tonight as it gets cold / tell yourself / what you know which is nothing / but the tune your bones play / as you keep going … tell yourself / in that final flowing of cold through your limbs / that you love what you are.”

But when I heard of his death, I turned to his poem “Orpheus Alone.” In its final lines, the poem — describing how the agony of loss was transmuted into poetry — might well be describing the work of Strand himself, and what he left us with:

                         … it came in a language
Untouched by pity, in lines, lavish and dark,
Where death is reborn and sent into the world as a gift,
So the future, with no voice of its own, nor hope
Of ever becoming more than it will be, might mourn.

- Camila

1916

A poppy sent back by a scraggy soldier
is brown in its dusty frame, tissue-thin.
A faint short note Dear Mum, I am sorry
I have not made it home
still underneath
the lowest petal. It came, no doubt, by
a friend who saw the bleakness in his eyes,
it came in an old leather bag. – Archived
now, lost among the boxes and the folders
in one of which someone forgot to write:
A bullet to the shoulder, then the chest.
Trampled over, a minute of 1916
when the boy bled on a grassless pasture.
Forty years on, his childless mother was found
dead in her third floor flat; no one knows them now.

You can bet our prime minister will proudly stoke the fires of Canadian military achievement when he speaks during Remembrance Day ceremonies this year.

And for every one of his platitudes about Canada being a great military nation, there will be a Canadian veteran long since abandoned by Stephen Harper’s failed government policies.

Vets in this country don’t complain when asked to do more with less, they serve proudly. We didn’t run and hide when we landed in Afghanistan with the wrong coloured uniforms. When the government purchased four second-hand submarines from Britain that needed $200 million worth of repairs, and they still didn’t work, we simply rolled up our sleeves and kept plugging the leaks. When a 50-year-old Sea King helicopter was forced to land in a Nova Scotia golf course last month, we just towed it back to base and fixed it.

Yet, our veterans can’t sit idly by when the government refuses to meet their needs when they return home. It has taken lawsuits, public demonstrations and—tragically—suicides to reinforce just how badly Harper’s Conservatives have handled Veterans’ Affairs. Even then, it’s still not clear if the Cons are getting the message.

Read more: Stephen Harper’s speeches ring empty, especially on Remembrance Day

Photo by Philip Tong. 

The story of the resolute Remembrance Poppy

Belgian Flanders represented the northernmost point of the Western Front during the First World War.  By the end of 1914, the Flanders frontline was one of the most devastated regions of the entire battlefield.  Despite the distruction by the guns, many soldiers noticed the vivid red Poppy continued to determinedly thrive in the shell-thrashed landscape.  To see such beautiful flowers growing across fields that were already sown with the bodies of thousands of dead men left an impression on all who witnessed it.  One man who was captured by the vision was the Canadian soldier Lieutenant-Colonel John Alexander McCrae.

McCrae was born on 30 November 1872. An adventurous man, McCrae became a field surgeon with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and British forces on the Western Front. During this service, he managed a field hospital taking in casualties from the Second Battle of Ypres.

McCrae suffered the personal loss of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who was killed in action and he conducted the burial service himself.  During this time McCrae noticed the red poppies growing obstinately throughout the landscape which stirred in him a poetic vision.  McCrae spent months working it into shape and eventually submitted “In Flanders Fields” to The Spectator magazine, where it was rejected.  Undeterred, he submitted it to Punch, who accepted and published it on 8 December 1915. 

 

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.

Sadly McCrae died of pneumonia on 28th January 1918, but his poem lived on.  “In Flanders Fields” had an enormous effect on the public. It was translated into dozens of languages, achieved global distribution and inspired the idea of the Poppy as a symbol of remembrance.


Moina Belle Michael was born in Good Hope, Georgia, United States, on 15 August 1869. By the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 she was a professor at the University of Georgia and a passionate humanitarian.  In New York City on 9 November 1918, with the Armistice just two days away, she came across McCrae’s poem (then titled “We Shall Not Sleep”) in the Ladies’ Home Journal.  The emotional effect of the poem upon her was considerable and she pledged to keep the faith with all who had died and wear a red poppy as an emblem of remembrance.  She acquired all the artificial red poppies she could find in the Wanamaker’s department store, and began to sell them. It was the beginning of a concerted campaign and after two years of effort came a breakthrough. 

 

In August 1920, Michael convinced the Georgia Department of the American Legion (a US veterans’ organisation) to adopt the Memorial Poppy as its symbol. This led to the poppy being adopted as a national symbol of remembrance, to be worn annually on Armistice Day, 11 November.  By the following year millions of poppies were sold across the United States and Canada. 

 

Attending the National American Legion convention in 1920 was a member of the French YWCA, Madame Anna E. Guérin. She saw possibilities for the sale of large numbers of fabric poppies back home in France, with the proceeds going to those who were suffering the effects of war particularly orphaned children and set about producing them. 

 

In 1921, Guérin travelled to Britain where she promoted the idea of the Memorial Poppy to a receptive Field Marshal Douglas Haig who was appalled at the hardship experienced by many veterans now back on the streets. Haig quickly embraced the idea and the first British Legion Poppy Day appeal began in the autumn of 1921, with hundreds of thousands of poppies selling across the country. Britain’s commonwealth connections and the tireless efforts of Madame Guérin meant that the Remembrance Poppy soon spread to Australia and New Zealand.  By 1922 a tradition and symbol of reflection was established that has endured to this day.