27 May 2013


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,
Love 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.

by John McCrae

Though my father served during World War II, and I served during the Vietnam War, I don't assume a militaristic interpretation of McCrae's poem, except to this extent ~ "the foe" might not be an enemy army.  The foe might instead be any entity which seeks to deprive others of possessions or freedom ~ dirty energy industries, Wall Street banks and the politicians who serve them, big pharma, or any nation or religion which would impose its sterile, oppressive beliefs on others.  

Today is devoted to those who died in service to their nation.  We each understand a different meaning for "nation", yet we can unite in common cause to honor those who have fallen.  Any time I've wandered a battlefield ~ Valley Forge, Gettysburg, the Little Big Horn ~ or any time I visit a military cemetery or war memorial, if it a quiet day with few people around, I can sense the presence of warriors now dead.  They do not sleep.

I pay equal respect to those on opposing sides ~ Yankee or rebel, cavalryman or Native American, Ally or German.  In the end, each fought and died alone.  His or her last thoughts were rarely on patriotism or ideology.  More often, as breathing fled, they thought of loved ones.  

As will we all.

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