November 11, 2010

a remembrance

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 your 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.         
                                 
                               ~John McCrae, 1915 

Originally known as Armistice Day, this day has been for the last ninety-two years a commemoration of the signing of the armistice to ended the First World War.  It has also been an acknowledgment of the great bravery and sacrifice of those who serve in the armed services. 

In the United States today is Veterans Day - one of two federal holidays to commemorate, remember and thank those who serve our country.  President Woodrow Wilson outlined the guiding principle behind this day of remembrance on November 11, 1919:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."(quoted from The History of Veterans Day)

I am a wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, niece and granddaughter of veterans.  I am awestruck by those people in my life who have chosen to commit their lives to the needs of our government through service in our Armed Forces - both past and present.  They all chose to serve, to sacrifice themselves for what they believe is a nation worth fighting for.  These men and women that I can thank in my own life are not the only ones I remember today.

Today I am remembering all who have served and are currently serving.  Thank you.  You all are part of a minority - the 1% of the American population has chosen to serve our country through military service.  Thank you.  You have sacrificed in ways that those of us who have not served cannot know.  Thank you.  Your lives have been shaped by your service, and so has mine.  Thank you.  For those of you who can not come home again.  Thank you.  For those of you who will never be the same as you once were. Thank you.

I want to thank the broader American population for the support both my husband and I felt when he was on Active Duty during his years of service.  As the children of the Vietnam generation, we never expected the outstretched hands, open arms, prayers and kind words.  Your support was felt and appreciated.  Thank you.  Don't stop.

If you are a veteran, I would like to gently remind you that our government has granted you and your families tremendous benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Please take the time and exercise your rights to access all of these benefits, whether it be for education, housing, health care, pension or disability benefit.  You have earned them.
{image taken at the Anzac cemetery at the River Kwai August 2009}

Today we are all called to remember.  I do.

1 comment:

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

A moving tribute! And I have a soft spot for In Flanders Fields. I was chosen to read this at a Memorial Day even in my hometown when I was in HS. I still have it memorized! :)

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