It’s curious how we can have a national holiday we call Memorial Day, the very name which tells us we’re remembering, and promptly forget what it’s for. In the town in which I grew up every Memorial Day the band would play Abide With Me at the bandshell in Chautauqua Park. There would be an address, a plane would fly over the lake and drop a wreath, and someone would read a poem. As a young girl, I was more interested in buying a candy necklace from the candy truck parked there than thinking about people I didn’t know or war or sacrifice. I didn’t appreciate a poem about poppies and marking our place. I began to listen more closely when I was a senior in high school. Now every Memorial Day, I think of that poem, and in my heart recite as much as I recall. The poem, In Flanders Fields, was written in 1915. It’s good to remember poems. It’s better to remember people who sacrificed their lives for our country. On Monday, go ahead and cook out, but don’t forget. Remember.
In Flanders Fields
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.
In Flanders Fields, John McCrae, 1915, public domain; Photo: www.commons.wikimedia.org Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License