A man amongst men.
That was one of the ways Lt. Col. John McCrae was memorialized Sunday, the 100th anniversary of his death.
There was a strong turnout at St. Andrew’s Church for a morning service at the church the McCrae family the future author of In Flanders Fields regularly attended.
It was one of several events around town on Sunday, including one held by the Loyal Orange Lodge at McCrae House on Water Street, free admission at McCrae House and Guelph Civic Museum and the performance of John McCrae: His Life In Words, Images and Song at the River Run Centre.
In Flanders Field is not a glorification of war, but a poem “teeming with raw emotion, an experienced surgeon - a healer - trying to deal with the human carnage of war,” said Deb Nash-Chambers of the Guelph Historical Society, speaking at the St. Andrew’s event.
It contains many emotions and many elements, she said.
“A call to duty, a seasoned soldier, that knew reinforcements were critical to an allied victory,” she said.
Written shortly after the death of a good friend, In Flanders Fields is a poem that “captures the humanity of the fallen,” Nash-Chambers said. “Of a man grieving the loss of a friend.”
Rev. John Borthwick led Sunday’s service, pointing out the family pew to the side to those in attendance, which included Mayor Cam Guthrie and Guelph MPP Liz Sandals..
“We come to acknowledge the way his life has changed our city, country and our world in so many ways,” said Rev. Borthwick.
Guthrie said that while McCrae is justly remembered as a great Canadian, ‘to us, he will always be a Guelphite.”
“Like so many others, McCrae was a small town boy who went off to battle a long way from home. Like so many others, he paid the ultimate sacrifice, but he left a remarkable gift to all the generations who followed him,” Guthrie said, adding that it is important McCrae be remembered not only as the author of the poem, but as an accomplished physician.
Nash-Chambers ended her tribute to John McCrae with words that echoed the sentiment of the day: “Rest in peace John McCrae. Gone, but not forgotten.”