Friday, June 1, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day is an important observance for our family. I grew up attending Memorial Day services and The Lawyer and I have sought out services in the different places we have lived. In the small farming community where I grew up, it seemed the speakers were almost always the same. There were two "gold-star mothers;" we knew them by name and spoke with them afterward. Over the years the faces grew older but the solemnity of the occasion remained. There were years that I played in the band and then years that my siblings and friends did. Dad would take us to visit the graves of our relatives and tell us about the sacrifices some of them made in our country's wars. It left a deep impression on me.

"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most notable poems written during World War I.  Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote it on 3 May 1915 after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 22 years old, the day before. This poem was recited at every Memorial service I can remember growing up.

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.

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