Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day.

What images pop into your head? The "unofficial start of summer?" Picnics? The year's first trip to the beach? Camping?

Getting together with family and friends?

Memorial Day is all this. But there's more. Much more.

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. 

WWI British Cemetery at Abbeville in France, 1918
public domain 

That poem was written May 3, 1915 by John McCrae. He was a Canadian, and a soldier first, and physician second. He had volunteered for service in the Second Boer War, and at the age of 41 volunteered again for duty in World War One. On May 2, 1915, during the second Battle of Ypres, his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed in battle. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae wrote this poem for his funeral.

public domain

This year, we mark a couple important anniversaries.

public domain

One hundred years ago this August, World War One started. It was the "war to end all wars." They were wrong.

public domain
Fifty years ago, June 6, 1944, was D-Day. That horrific, awful push by the allied armies was the beginning of the end of World War Two.

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? So we never forget to remember.


  1. Jan, what a beautiful post. I was watching some specials on the History Channel this weekend. Very moving.

    1. We visited our local National Cemetery yesterday afternoon. Something I'd recommend for everyone. There are ceremonies today, but just being there yesterday was so peaceful, so somber.

  2. We don't celebrate Memorial Day in Canada, though we have Remembrance Day in November. And yes, In Flanders Fields takes front and centre that day.

    Like Missy, I caught some specials on TV this weekend and was really touched. Watched some of the country music special last night -- where military personnel had a chance to sing with cm superstars. What a neat idea!

    Thanks for the reminder, Jan.

    1. Even though you don't celebrate the same day we do, Kav, I know Canadians are just as affected by what these men and women gave their lives for - British, Canadians, Australians, Americans, French and more all fighting together during most of the wars of the last century. Their sacrifices humble me.

  3. Beautifully said, Jan. Thank you.