Note: I had planned this Remembrance Day post before learning of Leonard Cohen’s death. Because of the special importance this holiday and this poem held for Leonard, this recitation seems especially appropriate now.
Leonard Cohen & Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day has been observed on November 11 in Canada and other Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty; it coincides with Veterans Day in the US. The emblem of Remembrance Day, the red poppy, bloomed across the battlefields of Flanders in World War I and was memorialized in the lines of “In Flanders Fields.” The poem, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force has long been a favorite of Leonard Cohen’s, particularly because his father, Nathan Cohen, along with other members of his family, served in the War. As a boy, Leonard was fascinated with the handgun his father had used in the military and wanted to fight wars and earn medals as his father had. During the 1970s he wore his father’s wartime ID bracelet. Proudly displaying the Remembrance Day Poppy, whether on the street or onstage, has been and continues to be a fundamental ceremony in Leonard Cohen’s life.
Leonard Cohen’s Live Recitation Of “In Flanders Fields”
Los Angeles: 2015