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Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. This day of remembrance started after World War I to commemorate an armistice — a temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany. This truce went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, and effectively ended “the war to end all wars.”

November 11 is an official holiday in the United States and coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in other parts of the world. The United States originally observed Armistice Day, but Congress expanded its scope in 1954 and changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all veterans and promote the cause of world peace.

In London this year, artists have created a beautiful remembrance to help commemorate this day: they have "planted" 888,246 individually crafted, ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. Since July, over 19,000 volunteers have worked to create the display called, "Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red."

Each poppy represents the life of a British or colonial soldier who died fighting in the Great War, which began 100 years ago.This morning in London, the last poppy was planted.

In addition to the powerful imagery commemorating the fallen soldiers, I see the impact of 19,000 volunteers all following a grand plan. Without a plan, this exhibit could have looked more like ponds or streams and not a sea. I think, how might Family Development make an even larger impact if we collectively worked on joint projects across our areas of expertise? Something to consider as we enter planning for 2015.

Editor's note: The source of the installation's title is a poem written by an unknown WWI solider. Read more here: WWI Installation at The Tower.

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