Proper Bostonian Quilters Guild is running a Mystery Sampler Quilt comprised of flower blocks this year. The member running this project said she looked at lots of flower blocks on the internet and then designed the flower blocks for this sampler. She says the flowers are a composite of the designs she has found. She stated that this poppy block can’t be attributed to any specific designer nor can she claim it her own original block.
The first flower block distributed to the guild was this poppy, It was the fall of 2018, just before the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. This poppy block resonated with me on many levels. I decided to make a quilt with just poppies, honoring soldiers, veterans and their families.
There are red poppies in this quilt, like those in Flanders Field, that mark the loss of a solider. They are also quilted “shadow poppies” for soldiers who died and were never found, and for sailors lost at sea whose graves are usually never seen.
In the fabrics used and in the quilting here are some things you can find.
There are trenches
There is barbed wire
There are bars of straight line quilting which can be the timbers holding up the trench walls or the walls of prisoner of war camps
There are trench rats and cats to catch them Yes, cats really were used in the trenches to kill vermin
There are fabrics with handwritten words, honoring the letters sent home to family and writing done in the trenches by soldiers and officers
There are bare trees, deforestation from the fighting and from chemical warfare
There are houses at home, some waiting hopefully, some turned upside down by loss. The stars that shine over these homes also shine on the soldiers on the battlefield
Poppies are associated with World War I and with those who died in combat because of the poem, “In Flander’s Field” , which was written a dressing station in Belgium, by Canadian Army doctor Major John McCrae in May, 1915.
But poppies are associated with other wars in other places. They grow in Afghanistan, where the longest war in American history is still being fought, and on other battlefields too.
Poppy flowers are the source of morphine that dulls the pain of injuries sustained in combat. Heroin, morphine derivative, has been used by troops too, with long-lasting consequences for them, for their loved ones, and for our country.
Poppies are as much part of the fabric of a battlefield as they are of the fabric of this quilt. I wish I had a happy way to conclude this post. I don’t.
Memorial Day is about remembering, and this remembering is hard.