The year 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the poem In Flanders Fields, which was written by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae amid the horrors of the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915. Through his hauntingly poignant poem, McCrae succeeded in giving a voice to the 60,000 Canadians who would lose their lives in the First World War, and ignited an international effort to keep their legacy alive. To mark this anniversary, this fine silver coin is a solemn remembrance of those who bravely served their country abroad in a time of war–lest we forget.
The reverse image by Canadian artist Tony Bianco masterfully combines vibrantly colour with finely detailed engraving to create a stirring scene of remembrance at a soldier’s grave. There is an unusual stillness in the air as two Canadian soldiers take the time to quietly remember a fallen friend and colleague, who lies buried far from home in a field that is resplendent with the red poppies described in John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields. With his head bent down and hat removed, one solemn soldier stands to the left of the stone grave; on the right side of the image, the second soldier kneels before the cross on one leg, his head bent down in quiet reflection. These two soldiers are among the many who will help carry the legacy left behind by the fallen; it is they who will “take up our quarrel with the foe” and who will carry out the call to action described in the lines “to you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high.” In the background, McCrae’s handwritten first line of his famous poem is inscribed in both English and in French: “In Flanders fields where poppies blow” and “Au champ d’honneur, les coquelicots.”
A striking collectible for commemorators, a symbolic gift for those in the military, or a tribute to loved ones who were lost at war.