Volunteers will place 888,246 ceramic poppies around the landmark over the summer as part of Paul Cummins' installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red." The work is a tribute to the fallen Allied soldiers of World War I, which began 100 years ago Monday.
Britain lost more people in World War I than any other conflict. The artist chose poppies because they were the only flower that would grow in the fields of Europe where soldiers fought and are said to have grown around the bodies of the dead. The flower also inspired the poem "In Flanders Fields," by Canadian Colonel John McCrae.
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.
The last poppy will be placed on Armistice Day. After the November 11 holiday, they will be removed and put up for sale for about $42 per poppy.