Monday, May 28, 2012

A 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.

And so we celebrate another Memorial Day in our future...God Bless our Vets


the fly in the web said...

I always note the words in memorial services in the U.K. ...'they laid down their lives...'
No, they didn't. They were killed.

It's a heavy responsibility on governments to make sure that their countries' young men and women only go to war for high purposes.

My father was a professional soldier, careful of the lives of his men and heartsick at the suffering of the families who lost people they loved.

Donna said...

Beautiful Miz Sandi....

Sally said...

LOVE this. Thank you, Sandie!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

To so many this is just a holiday for fun. We seem to forget that we should be celebrating the sacrifice made for us by so many whose lives were cut short.

Vee said...

We do not treat Memorial Day as a totally solemn day nor do we (or any I know) treat it as only a day to remember the fallen soldiers. It has become a day to remember all those who have passed. Still, our flag is lowered at dawn and raised at noon and we pause when we hear the guns fired. I am certainly grateful that we still have the opportunity to picnic and play in a country that is free remembering always that freedom has a price.

Loved watching that gal of yours!

Lee said...

Wonderful post Sandi! I didn't remember Flanders Field, although no doubt I'd heard it as a child. Thank you so much for the moving remembrance.


Hilary said...

A lovely post, Sandi.I always find it awkward when I read "happy Memorial Day." It seems as wrong as to say "happy Remembrance Day" - our Canadian day of recognition and thanks for our soldiers. This is when In Flanders Field is always read, here.

ancient one said...

Flanders Field. Don't know if I've ever heard it before. It is sobering as was your post. I'm afraid most of us think of it as a holiday. It's always the weekend my husband's family takes for their family reunion. Thanks for the reminder!

Zuzana said...

Beautiful post and such strong sentiments.
My husband is currently deployed overseas and every day i pray for his safety and safe return to me in September. Our separation is difficult and since I met him, my view have changed on many things. Such as the meaning of Memorial Day. It is not celebrated here but I did observe it when living in the US. To me it was just a day off then, today I knwo better.

NitWit1 said...

FLanders was required reading when I was in school. it was and is a somber reminder that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

Brian Miller said...

flanders field is some of the earliest poetry i remember reading...this is a nice reflection for memorial day is good we remember why we have the day