A powerful symbol of war's cost
A fascinating reminder of the origin of the poppy as a symbol for Remembrance Day is to go on display in Leicestershire, as we report on Page 3 today.
It is a soldier's Bible from the First World War in which a Flanders poppy has been pressed between the pages.
This historical treasure has been donated by the nephew of a Wigston soldier who served in France and Belgium between 1914 and 1918.
It was, of course, the poppies which bloomed across the battlefields of Flanders in the First World War which inspired the use of the poppy as a symbol to remember those killed in conflict.
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It is extraordinary that one should have survived all these years so fittingly pressed in a soldier's Bible.
The poppy became a worldwide symbol thanks to a famous poem by Canadian officer Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called In Flanders Fields.
The first two stanzas are evocative. The opening lines describe how the poppies in Flanders fields blow between the crosses marking the graves of the fallen and the poem goes on to describe how: "Short days ago/ We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow/ Loved and were loved, and now we lie/ In Flanders fields."
The third stanza is more problematic – an exhortation to the living to carry on fighting – but then it was written at a time when the war was universally seen as a just cause.
That aside, however, the haunting lines in the first part of the poem have become a powerful lament to the human cost of warfare.
Many millions more have paid that price since the carnage of the First World War finally ended in 1918 "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month".
There is a reminder of this in Mr Leicester today, which is devoted to the memory of some of the sons and daughters of Leicestershire who have lost their lives in conflicts from the First World War to the war in Iraq.
All these thoughts will be in our minds this weekend as people across Leicestershire wear their poppies with pride and pay tribute to Britain's war dead.
To quote from another well-known poem – Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen – we will remember them.