Today is Sunday, May 30, 2010 and it is Memorial Day.
At three o'clock this afternoon, I will suspend anything I am doing to concentrate and remember all those patriotic heroes of all wars who gave of themselves to serve our country. Among my heroes, I salute my sons Thomas and Floyd.
However, I want to pay tribute today to two men who became part of my extended family about sixteen years ago and who are a source of inspiration to many young people, and most of all to me. They are Raymond and John.
Raymond is Laurie's father, and Laurie became my granddaughter when she married my grandson Thomas Jr. Since then, Raymond has become a grandfather twice more and I have been blessed twice with the title of 'great grandmother' by handsome Evan and beautiful Maeghan.
Raymond has been involved, in the past nine years, in several missions in our conflicts overseas. His son John, also a father, is now serving his third or fourth mission there. I hope and pray that he will be returning soon safely to all his love-ones.
The other day, in a local newspaper (The Putnam County Courier), I came across an article which filled me with emotion. Perhaps it will inspire you to read and explain to our young folk the true meaning of Memorial Day.......that it is not the beginning of open-season for backyard barbeques or opening-day of beaches.
"IN FLANDERS FIELDS......"
"Canadian poet John McCrae wrote the famed poem "In Flanders Fields," after his experience as a field surgeon at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.
The poem was inspired by the funeral of a friend who died in that battle, and the reference to poppies in the Flanders fields led to the tradition of wearing paper poppies in honor of those who have died in war.
The poppies reference was not accidental: the flower, a source of opium, is a symbol of sleep, and as the poet Sackville noted, its cousin, death.
The American poet R. W. Lillard wrote, "America's Answer," in reply to Flanders Fields in which he said: Fear not that ye have died for naught; The torch ye threw to us we caught, Ten million hands will hold it high, And freedom's light shall never die!
Here are the words of McCrae's poem:
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 falling 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.""
Its a beautiful day here in Carmel; I hope yours is, too.