Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Rerun

It was May 5th in the year 1868 and by the ruling General Order 11 (General John Logan pictured above) Decoration Day was instituted to honor the fallen dead of a recent war. In the South it goes by many names, but Mama always called the Civil War "the Late Great Unpleasantness". It didn't change anything in her mind about the validity of the war (and BTW the war she missed by about 50 years) but the concept of brother fighting brother was unpleasant, you see. Southern women had begun to lay flowers and ribbons, nosegays and scraps of paper with words of love on the graves of their fallen loves. Husbands, brothers, sons...there was no official holiday, it was just something they did until there was an official holiday. General Logan apparently took notice of this allegiance to the fallen and so a holiday we still celebrate was born. Through the years Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day and every small town began to hold celebrations with parades and flags and marching men from every branch of the Military proudly walked in it...some old soldiers (with uniforms smelling of mothballs, taken from attics everywhere) current Military men and women, heroes from World War II up thru the current war in Iraq will be honored this year. Something I have noticed, being of the VietNam era, is that we honor our heroes more vigorously during war than peace. It's more than the typical barbecue holiday it usually is. War is at the forefront of everyone's minds and so we pray for our Troops...we pray for the war to be over and everyone to be home and safe with their loved ones. I don't say Happy Memorial Day, because when you think about it, there's nothing remotely happy about it. My grandmother, Nancy Douglas, read "In Flanders Fields" to us when we were little. She read it with much emotion and often had tears in her eyes. I am sure she was always thinking about her beloved Martus (Douglas) who had died on the soil of France after barely disembarking from the troop ship that had carried him there. The words are as moving and meaningful now as they were when first written by a young Canadian Officer named Lt John McCrae, MD. Of course it would be a Doctor who would take note of the carnage that war leaves behind. Take a moment to read it and feel its power. And remember all those who shed their blood to make us the great Nation we are and always will be, because of three simple words. We the People.

In Flanders Fields By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

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.


Vee said...

Oh this brought tears to my eyes. I remember so well the WWII soldiers who stood to attention and saluted with great pride as the flag passed by every Memorial Day. My heart is so full of love for them and the things that they endured.

Loved reading what your mother said about the Civil War. I was just perusing information on Stonewall Jackson and some of the other greats this morning. Sigh. It gives one much to consider.

Have a beautiful weekend, Sandi. Thank you for a beautiful post.

Jamie Dawn said...

I do feel the pride, sorrow, and deep thanks to all who've served and are serving. My grandfather was wounded in WWII, but he took part in the freeing of people from a concentration camp. I can't imagine the emotions he felt. He is but one of many who have served our country. The heartfelt stories are endless.
I am so proud of our troops. I hope to see completed victory in our current battlefronts soon and to see all our troops come home to a grateful nation. God bless them a their families.
May we enjoy this holiday weekend, and may we never forget to honor those who have given their lives in service for us.

Sandy said...

I especially loved the poem. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Lee said...

Thank you, Sandi for reminding what this weekend of major sales and closed businesses is really about. May none of our family or friends ever lie in Flanders Field.

Peace! & Hope!

windycorner said...

Flanders Field is very familiar to me as my mother always read it to us. We also used to get little paper poppies to wear on Memorial Day. What has happened to that tradition?

david mcmahon said...

I didn't know it was called Decoration Day, Sandi.

And I know the poem well. My mother, who taught me so much about life and the people I would meet along the way, used to read that (and hundreds of other poetic pearls) to me when I was little ....

Terri said...

Isn't that one of THE most beautiful poems ever written?
I love it so much!

Happy Decoration Day!

Jo Beaufoix said...

I love that poem, and this was beautifully written. We celebrate Rememberance day on Nvember 11th in the UK and it is just a special. These days are so important aren't they? We must never forget.

Lib said...

What a Great Post!
The tea is ready:o)
Have aBlessed day!

Akelamalu said...

Love the poem and this is a great post.

Salute said...

Thank you for posting this great piece of history, a wonderful reminder; the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Jeni said...

I grew up always attending a special service at our cemetery to pay homage to those who sacrificed that we may continue to live in freedom and also, to remember family and friends who had gone to their great reward. Graves of ALL family members had to be tended, flowers (live flowers) had to adorn them too. It was always a special occasion to go work on getting the flowers planted and be able to visit with many folks formerly from the area who had moved away from here, years and years ago. The "visitation" aspect at the cemetery where my Mom's family are interred is still something I do look forward to though -a chance to rekindle old friendships a bit.
My kids and I generally have a very low-key get together -time to remember, time to share too. That's the way it was too when I was a kid -nice meals, quiet visitation, no celebration per se.
And reading "Flanders Field" again has the same reaction on me now as it did when I first read it, first heard it, as a child -very poignant, very touching, and guaranteed to bring tears.

Jeanne said...

Thanks you for sharing this Sandi. A beautiful post that puts things in perspective.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Fantastic Post Sandi. Really moving and appropriate.

smilnsigh said...

Yes, I posted this moving poem also.

But Sandi, we are at War now. And who notices? Oh sure, the families of our Warriors notice. They have to notice the empty 'place at the tables' and all that implies.

But how many regular citizens are giving up anything, for the War Effort today?

ok, I'll stop. You are military. I don't need to preach to the choir.

{who remembers WWII, forward...}

Abbie said...

Aunt Sandie, thatnks for your kind words, it was really appreciated.

Donna said...


Justabeachkat said...

What a beautifully written post Sandi!

Make sure you come watch the video honoring our warriors at the end of my post tonight.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!


Ally Jay said...

We had this at our Anzac day service this year. Very poignant. Love little kitty.

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for sharing this. God bless you on this weekend. said...

My grandfather died at Flanders Field. If only we had learned a lesson from it.

Merisi said...

Thank you, Sandi,
for taking the time and care to bring those times and words into the present.
I used to spend many an early spring break at Jekyll Island, and often visited the Civil War cemetary in the little historic town of Brunswick, right by the sea, reached then by a drawbridge. I walked the rows of graves, read the names of so many Fallen, names that talked of not only American, but French or Irish, German or other European ancestry, many so heartbreakingly young, lives full of promise, only at the cusp of adulthood, all sacrificed on the terrible fields of war. said...

Hi, you've been tagged!

Debbie said...

Sandi...beautiful and tearful post and a wonderful tribute to our men and women currently serving and our soldiers past.

I just read about the Poppy last week and then read this poem which I had never heard before.

Thank you for the tears and smiles!

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Oh to live in a land where we are free. Im greatful! I love your sweet little kitty on the last post. We have a new little as well. They only grow up too fast. Nice to meet you, Susie H

Korie said...

I've been to the Flanders Fields Museum in Ieper and also to one of the nearby cemeteries and the poem is ten times as moving once you've seen the rows and rows of unknown men that fought and died in that war.

Lee said...

Afternoon, Sandi. I've tagged you for a meme which Terry tagged me for a while back. Now that it's done I've been tagged for still another by Paschal. Plus there are two quizzes up for you to take.


Unknown said...

Happy Memorial Day to You!☺

Unknown said...

Hi Sandi,

Thanks Sandi for this post. I didn't know alot of this or if I did learn it in school, I had forgotten it. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Still pregnant.. but holding out hope because Im getting some pretty good contractions today.. if not for sure tomorrow ;)
Thanks for checking in on me Sandi.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Sandi, this was a wonderful post and tribute to all of our veterans.

I went over to the Vienna blog. Thanks for the link! She has a beautiful blog and I will enjoy visiting here often.

Mockingbird Hill said...

This is such a good read...and always special, no matter how many times you DO read it. I have ancestors that fought in the Civil War and have always felt a strange kinship with all of those that were there at that time.

Thanks for allowing so many to read it again...


Anonymous said...

happy Memorial day to your family.

Tara said...


Such a moving post!Hope you emjoyed a great Memorial Day!

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Great minds think alike--I posted the same poem.

Lew said...

Thanks Sandi. Flanders Field is one of those moving poems from English class somewhere back in time that I remember. So appropriate for today!

Sam Fox said...

I always cry when I read Flanders Field ... today no exception. But thank you, Sandi for a moving post.

Mima said...

We have Remembrance Day in November when we honour all our fallen troops, and there is a wonderful ceremony held in the centre of London where wreaths of poppies are laid. For me it will always be about Grampa as he served in the 2nd WW and still bears all the shrapnel wounds and believe it or not still has bits of shrapnel inside him they couldn't remove.

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