‘The Blood of Heroes Never Dies’
Special to The Dallas Examiner | 11/12/2018, 6:28 a.m.
Special to The Dallas Examiner
In November 2015, Richland College was home to a sea of 5,171 red ceramic poppies – one poppy for every Texas soldier killed in World War I. A lone white poppy represented the single Texas nurse reported to have also perished. The exhibit was dedicated during the college’s Veterans Day ceremony.
“In 2015, The Blood of Heroes Never Dies challenged the Richland community to create a memorial honoring Texas soldiers killed in World War I,” said ceramics faculty member Jen Rose. “This educated the participants about the historical importance of the war and allowed people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages to share an experience together. In the process of uniting to honor veterans, we discovered our humanity and remembered their sacrifice.”
This year, Richland will honor Veterans Day with a rededication of its poppy exhibit, The Blood of Heroes Never Dies, Nov. 12 at noon on the east side of Thunderduck Lake near Fannin Hall. The college is located at 12800 Abrams Road.
The original exhibit was the only one of its kind in the U.S. and was modeled after the iconic Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies exhibit at the Tower of London in 2014, during which 888,246 ceramic red poppies were on display in the tower’s moat to commemorate the British and colonial servicemen killed in World War I.
“The genesis of the symbolic connection of the poppy with commemorating veterans arose from a 1915 World War I poem, In Flanders Fields, which emphasized poppies in its theme, and has become one of the most well-known war poems to emerge from any modern conflict,” said Siegle.
“The 2015 Blood of Heroes project was meant not only to honor veterans of all wars, but to coincide with a centenary anniversary year of both World War I, and the year the Flanders Fields poem, with its iconic poppy references, was written. This year has particular significance for revisiting and reaffirming the ongoing vision of the Blood of Heroes project because this Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of that war, which cost this nation more than 323,000 casualties, and this state 5,171 of its heroes.”
Remembrances, or memorial poppies, have been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died in wars. In Flanders Fields was penned by Lt. Col. John McCrae. However, McCrae did not survive the war and perished in January 1918.
Yet his poem lived on and inspired YMCA volunteer and teacher Moina Belle Michael always to remember those who died in the war and to write her pledge in the form of a poem, We Shall Keep the Faith. Rose and Siegle chose the passage from the ninth line of Michael’s poem – “The blood of heroes never dies” – as the theme for this memorial art installation project.
After the exhibit of the original 2015 display, some of the ceramic poppies traveled to Georgetown, where they were installed as part of the city’s annual Red Poppy Festival. The poppies were offered for sale in both Dallas and Georgetown for $10 each, with proceeds donated to Puppies Behind Bars, a nonprofit group that trains inmates to raise service dogs for wounded veterans. The organization received more than $25,000 from the poppy sales.