Thousands of Canadians voted for the cover of Canadian Geographic’s First World War 100th anniversary special commemorative issue, and the result is decisive. Option four, the swaying poppy field, claimed a tremendous 50 per cent in our online poll.
Voters cited the powerful symbolism of the image as the main reason for their selection of the poppies. We couldn’t agree more. This cover is a visual representation of poet and First World War brigade surgeon Major John McCrae’s famous 1915 poem, “In Flanders Fields,” which pays tribute to those who fought and died and sacrificed for Canada, not only in the Great War but in all battles since.
Recited by schoolchildren and veterans alike, the poem — and the image of the poppy itself — is Canada’s wholehearted expression of gratitude and remembrance. As one voter commented, rather than placing the focus on a single soldier, “The poppy is the symbol of all those men, women and children who gave their lives … or contributed in many other ways during ‘the war to end all wars.’ ”
What better thing for the cover of our First World War special issue, which explores and showcases 100 ways the Great War shaped Canada? That’s not to say the other cover choices weren’t striking in their own right. Option two, the painting of the young soldier, took 22 per cent of votes, while the gravestone of the Unknown Soldier (option three) took 20 per cent. And we confess that a favourite around the office was option one, the ominous-looking “pointer” recruitment poster, which won only eight per cent of votes.
If you don’t already receive our cover vote email but want to, click here to sign up. And be sure to pick up a copy of the July/August 2014 issue of Canadian Geographic if you’re not already a subscriber. It hits newsstands in late July.