Friday, November 11, 2011

The Ballad of John McCrae

Today is Veterans Day. From one who has neither volunteered to serve nor been involuntarily summoned to do to all of those men and women who have, I offer my humblest thanks and appreciation. And thanks as well to the families of those presently in service of this Nation - especially those stationed in places where being a member of the American military is decidedly dangerous - and best wishes to one and all that at some point in the not-too-distant future your and your loved one are not required to partake in a "long-distance" romance.

I realize that today is not Memorial Day. In addition to being Veterans Day, it is in fact also Armistice Day, the day memorializing the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. You have no doubt heard of World War I a/k/a "the War to End All Wars". The mere presence of a Roman numeral at the end of its name reveals the tragic absurdity of that statement.

Over the course of the past several years, I have had the chance to take Margaret, Rob, Suz and Joe to Washington, D.C. - a place where none of the four of them had otherwise been. Among the sights we saw and experienced were the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the United States Marine Corps Memorial, the United States Air Force Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of original thoughts today, I wanted to simply share some of what we were fortunate enough to see. Regardless of the shape, size, color, placement or age of the memorial in the photographs, each is composed of the same materials: blood, heart and sacrifice.

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.

World War II Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial

Korean War Memorial

United States Marine Corps Memorial

United States Air Force Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery including the Tomb of the Unknown

If you were to tell me that you think every day should be Veterans Day, I would not debate the point. In a way, given that every day each of us awakens and goes to sleep in this Republic is owed in no small part to the sacrifice of those who serve presently and those who served before them, every day really already is; right?


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