We Must Remember

Facsimile of handwritten version of McCrae's

Image via Wikipedia

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.

I remember flocked plastic poppies on pins, some with black centers, some green. I remember dropping coins into a box and taking one, almost always pricking my fingers as I pinned it to my winter coat. I remember making wreaths of poppies at school. I remember practicing songs on the recorder in the third grade, the solemnity of playing at the Remembrance Day Assembly in the gym. Someone always read this poem. And I remember at 11:11 am, the hush that fell over the gathered children and teachers, even the smallest seeming to understand how the silence was almost sacred.

I remember in Junior High and High School, having more comprehension of what exactly we were commemorating. And I remember crying. We didn’t have assemblies, but In Flanders Fields was read over the PA system, and at 11:11, two minutes passed with even the most outspoken and irreverent students still. Then the empty halls and full classrooms would be filled with the overwhelmingly melancholy notes of Taps. I remember in High School wondering how many of the men who died were the age of the boys in my class. I remember looking at them, thinking that each boy in the room was someone’s son, maybe a brother, and that each man and woman who laid down his or her life was someone’s baby, someone’s love.

I don’t want to talk about war, philosophize or debate the moral or political aspect of anything military.

I want to thank each and every man and woman who has put on a uniform and taken a stand to defend my freedom as best they can. I want to honour them, to acknowledge their sacrifice and let them know that I could not have done what they did. I don’t know what the world would be like if no one had taken up the Canadian, American, British flag, or the flag of any of the other Allies of World War I and II. I don’t know what life would be like if the Veterans I’ve known hadn’t served, if those who have laid down their lives or devoted them to the military had opted out. I can’t imagine. And I don’t want to.

If you have served, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. If you are serving, you have my utmost respect and my thoughts and prayers are with you. If you have lost someone you loved, know that they are not forgotten, that their sacrifice was not in vain, that even now there are those of us who are grateful. And if I could have an audience with those who this day is devoted to, who fought to bring about Armistice, I don’t think I could speak. I would gaze at the thousands of faces, and weep tears of gratitude, of grief, of wonder.

I will not forget.

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~ by Trillian on 11/11/2010.

2 Responses to “We Must Remember”

  1. Well put, indeed.

    Jim

  2. From this veteran of a war a generation ago and far, far away: thank you for remembering.

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