National hero of Canada John McCrae had a knack for painting, poetry and medicine. First of all, he considered himself a soldier: he volunteered in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), and with the beginning of the First World War he was enrolled in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

But even an experienced warrior was shocked by what he had to experience in the first massacre of the world scale. In a letter to his mother, he called the Ypres battle in Flanders “horror”, during which the Germans organized one of the first chemical attacks in the history of military affairs.

One of the victims of this battle was a close friend of McCray, at whose funeral he noticed bright red flowers around the graves of fallen soldiers – poppies. The very next day, he wrote one of the most famous poems about the war, which he sang to the souls of the fallen soldiers – “In the fields of Flanders“.

В полях фламандських квітне мак
Поміж хрестів - скорботний знак
По нас; а жайвір серед хмар
Нам шле свій спів - останній дар,
Ледь чутний тут крізь грім атак.
Бо ми, полеглі в цих полях,
Ми, що кохали, нині - прах,
Жили - і прийняли удар
В полях фламандських.
Ідіть у бій, забувши страх,
Нам світоч випав з рук, відтак -
Вам підіймати цей тягар!
Якщо загасне віри жар -
Наш сон розвіється, як мак,
В полях фламандських…

(переклад Оксани Самари)

A requiem poem about the fragility of human life in wartime gained popularity immediately after its publication, but the poppy became a symbol of memory for the victims of military conflicts thanks to a University of Georgia teacher and philanthropist Moini Michael. McCray’s work deeply affected her, so in her own poem “We will keep the faith” she vowed to always wear a red poppy. Already in 1921, veteran organizations of the USA and Great Britain began to use the poppy as a symbol of memory.

Never? Again!

The poppy is one of the most popular images in the Ukrainian tradition. Due to its natural features, it symbolizes the connection with the world of the dead. Therefore, the choice in favor of the poppy as a symbol of the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation is natural for Ukraine, both from the point of view of affinity with the European cultural and civilization space, and based on the ancient traditions of the Ukrainian people.


The author of the symbol, which at the same time represents a poppy flower and a bloody trace from a bullet wound, is a designer Sergey Myshakin.

However, nowadays the slogan “Never again” no longer seems relevant, because war has come to Ukrainian land again: the Russian invaders are killing the old and the young, destroying cities and villages, fertile lands are strewn with mines instead of wheat. If in 2014 Ukrainian soldiers managed to localize the aggression in the east of the country, then in February 2022 the horrors of war were felt by the inhabitants of settlements all over Ukraine: from Lviv to Mariupol, from Kyiv to Kherson. Never? Again!

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Yuriy P.
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poppy never again


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