'We Shall Keep the Faith'

AWV Gear is a program of American Women Veterans Foundation that helps to raise awareness about the service of women in the US military. Our store's goals include ensuring that 2.2 million women veterans in America today know their service is honored and remembered. This is especially true for our fallen sisters who are so often overlooked because many still believe that women don't serve in combat.

Memorial Day is celebrated as a vacation weekend in May to ring in summer break but to veterans, it is so much more than just a holiday - it's a day of remembering the humble sacrifice of our nation's heroes. And it's our responsibility to ensure that they are always remembered and never forgotten.

The red poppy as a symbol has a long and sacred history. We hope this shirt will start a conversation not only about women in military service, but what the Flanders poppies represent - resilience, grace, rebirth... and a deep and sacred gratitude to those who gave all. 

The poem In 'Flanders Fields' was written by a Canadian but it was an American woman, Moina Michael, who created the poppies in America and sent them to England. You can read the poem she wrote 99 years ago in response to Flanders Fields called 'We Shall Keep the Faith.' 

AWV wants to carry the torch to honor the commitment she made on behalf of us all and it is in solidarity that we offer these shirts as a small token of remembrance. 

From the British Legion website:

"During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.

Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction. In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write a now famous poem called 'In Flanders Fields'.

McCrae’s poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever 'Poppy Appeal' raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing."

(Source: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk)

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.