Today, Remember Your Soldiers
TODAY, November 11, 2009, I remember our soldiers and sailors, particularly my Father. Today, you can choose your celebratory term: Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, even Poppy Day. It doesn’t matter. What does, is that today we remember the signing of the armistice that concluded WWI, and honor those that served all America’s wars, justified or not.
A military man, my Father was shaped by WWII, and was reshaped again in Korea. Again in Vietnam, three tours.
The total American dead and wounded of those three wars tallied over 1.4 million. Add those in WWI, and the number increases to 1.7 million. Add U.S. allies and enemies, and that number soars by several million more.
From the black quagmire of such horror, my Father stumbled away with just an injured back that would flare up from time to time over the course of his life. As well as memories sealed tight.
My Father lived to marry, have children, divorce, remarry, become distant… hiding himself somewhere deep and safe. He died in a hospital at the age of 82, rather than in Germany or Japan at 18, or Korea at 30, or Vietnam at 45. Lucky guy.
The poppy came to symbolize WWI. In the lore of war, the Flanders Poppy was said to be the first flower to show itself after the initial battles had spilled blood in Flanders; the red color representing the blood of fallen comrades returning to the light of the Sun.
So, to my Dad and all the others who served, let’s read this poem and remember them.
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.
Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)