This is a repost of my Memorial Day post of May 30, 2005. The poems quoted below were each in response to WWI and are equally appropriate, IMO, on Veterans Day, honoring both those who have given their lives in defense of freedom and those who willingly laid down their lives in service, but fortunately still serve us with their living examples of courage, sacrifice, honor and duty. To all our Veterans and your families, those who have served and those who continue in active service: Thank you all.

(Note: because our volunteer military personnel literally do lay down their lives in service to our country—hopefully to take them up again when their duty is done—this post is focused on the ultimate gift of duty and honor.)


Compare and contrast…
A Canadian response to WWI events:
In Flanders Fieldsby
John McCrae, May 1915

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.

Here’s a later response by an American reader of “In Flanders Fields”…

We Shall Keep the Faith

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead
.Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Now, what’s the comparison, the contrast? Well, not so much between the more famous “In Flanders Fields” and the less-well-known (today, at least) “We Shall Keep the Faith” but between the two poems and… attitudes today toward those who have fallen in service to their country. Today, large numbers of Americans hold such sacrifice in disdain. Indeed, many have attended and participated in “demonstrations” that have celebrated the terrorist savages who seek to kill not only American servicemen and women but civilian non-combatans as well.

Moina Michael’s now less-well-known poem was instrumental in establishing “Decoration Day” (now Memorial Day) and in establishing the (apparently dying) tradition of wearing a poppy in honor of our fallen military. That McRae’s poem is “better” art, I’ll not dispute. But Moina Michael’s poem has a heart that’s sadly missing in all too many Americans today who cannot comprehend, let alone echo these lines:

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies

Would that we too teach our children well, that duty and honor and sacrifice are due our deepest respect and support.

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A production of GCS Distributing

And DO visit GCS Distributing for some more moving tributes to those who serve and have served in the armed forces.Linked at Stop the ACLU, at Don Surber, Cathouse Chat, TMH’s Bacon Bits, and at NIF, of course—a massive linkage post, as usual. 🙂