The stained glass windows in the Memorial Room of Soldiers’ Tower, built to honor the memory of the 1,185 members of the University of Toronto who gave their life in the First World War, and expanded to honor those who fell in the Second. Symbolizing the sacrifice, and memorializing the honoured dead, the windows are based upon the famous poem by University of Toronto Alumnus Lt. Col. John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
This window memorializes the dead of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the first time all four units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together, suffering heavy losses and, according to some, birthing a national, Canadian, identity.