In Flanders Fields by 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
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up the 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
* * * * *
Gives me goosebumps.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and we take a day off to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom to barbecue, drive hundreds of miles to spend a day with family, get sunburned and mosquito-bitten, drink beer, and watch parades.
I mean it. They died so that we can live our lives, mundane as they may be, as we choose.
The first Memorial Day was observed May 30, 1868, to honor those who died in the Civil War. After World War I, it was changed to honor those Americans who died fighting any war.
At 3 PM, there is the National Moment of Remembrance, asking all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."
My Dad fought in Europe in World War II. He lost many friends, particularly in a little known battle called Operation Northwind. During the last winter of the war, after the Battle of the Bulge, this action involved 26 days of combat in the montains and plains close to Strasbourg, with the Germans sending in everything they had left, including 150,000 troops. Pop was in the 70th Division of the Seventh Army which left over 11,000 Americans dead, seriously wounded or in enemy hands that January in 1945.
My brother-in-law's father was with Easy Company and a few years ago he sent us video tapes of the movie "Band of Brothers". I can't attest to its veracity, but my Dad felt it depicted the way the war was quite accurately. It follows the story of an airborne infantry company, Easy Company (the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S.Army) from boot camp through the end of the war. It is beautifully filmed, brutal, engaging, violent. It runs 999 minutes, so should be watched in installments. Not only is it long in time, it is a lot to take emotionally. But I feel our nation would have a healthy distaste for war if everyone had to watch this film. Our leaders should watch it at least once a year.
The movie was made from the book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. The only book I've read by Ambrose was Undaunted Courage, about Lewis and Clark and the taming of the West. I found that book very readable, so the first thing I will do when I close this post is order his Band of Brothers.
Happy Memoria Day. Don't forget to remember.