Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day musings


today the memorial day parade made its way down old post road in my town of fairfield, conn. i watched it with my sons, our dog (outfitted with a red, white, and blue bandana) and thousands of other townspeople cheering floats and marching bands and drum corps and cannons and souped-up cars carrying various parade princesses past white clapboard homes that have stood since the 1700s. it's a dazzling affair, but when the veterans pass by, marching with slow and quiet dignity, i always wonder how we can ever grasp the enormity of what they have given our country. so this memorial day, i turned back to a poem my father memorized as a child and taught me, as it seems to be the most appropriate tribute of all, a way of sharing -- with quiet dignity -- the magnitude of their courage and sacrifice:

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.

-- By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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