Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

So, I'm cheating a little. I'm reposting the Memorial Day post I did last year with a couple of things added. I've been swamped with getting ready for our trip to Branson tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this.

"A Nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” These words were spoken by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Throughout history brave men and women have risked their lives in service to our great country with courage, honor, and dedication.

God Bless our fighting men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us and bring freedom and democracy to nations who are under a dictator's thumb, to nations whose streets run red with the foul wind of genocide, to nations who are under the rule of fanatical regimes who believe in killing one's wife, sister, daughter, mother for some imagined "dishonor" to the family so that the families "honor" can be restored. These brave military men and women bring hope to those who have had none, bring justice to those who have been unjustly condemned, who sacrifice their lives so that others can have a life to live freely for the first time. Your efforts are not in vain. They do not go unnoticed. You are not unappreciated. Thank you for all that you do. May God bless you and your loved ones today and always for your willing sacrifices.
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*God Bless America*

The Music

Toby Keith - American Soldier:
Toby is a HUGE supporter of our military men and women. This song is one of the best one's I've heard from the country musicians in support of our American soldiers. Very blunt, very moving.

The second offering is the traditional bagpipe and drums verson of Amazing Grace. We had the color guard in church yesterday morning and they had a piper and drummer and it brought me to tears. Not just a little tears, but a lot of tears. There is nothing quite like hearing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes with a drum and remembering that other are out there putting their lives on the line so that I don't have to. Protecting the most precious part of my life, my daughter with their lives, sometimes leaving behind children of their own when they make that ultimate sacrifice. If it doesn't move you to tears the sacrifices they make for you and your family, you probably have a heart of stone.

And finally Taps, with a double trumpet solo. Beautiful!

The words to "Taps":
(Note: there are no "official" words to Taps, below are the most popular.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

The Trivia

Memorial Day was founded to honor military personnel who died in The Civil War and was first celebrated on May 5th, 1866 in Waterloo New York, though it was first widely celebrated two years alter on May 30, 1868. President Johnson declared in 1996 that Waterloo was the birthplace of Memorial Day because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the President or Vice-President to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

In reading the poem In Flander's Fields, themost asked question about it is: why poppies?

Wild poppies flower when other plants in their direct neighbourhood are dead. Their seeds can lie on the ground for years and years, but only when there are no more competing flowers or shrubs in the vicinity (for instance when someone firmly roots up the ground), these seeds will sprout.

There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front; in fact the whole front consisted of churned up soil. So in May 1915, when McCrae wrote his poem, around him bloodred poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before.

But in this poem the poppy plays one more role. The poppy is known as a symbol of sleep. The last line We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields might point to this fact. Some kinds of poppies are used to derive opium from, from which morphine is made. Morphine is one of the strongest painkillers and was often used to put a wounded soldier to sleep. Sometimes medical doctors used it in a higher dose to put the incurable wounded out of their misery.

About the Poppies
Where did the idea of calling Memorial Day "Poppy Day"? Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. Then in 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

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.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Moina Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women.

This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Moina Michae for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Since the late 1950's - on the Thursday before Memorial Day - the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

The Poetry
Perhaps the most popular poem that is quoted or recited on memorial day is this one by Major John McCrae:

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.

Another tribute to our fighting men and women is from Walt Whitman entitled:
Dirge for Two Veterans

THE last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here-and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.

Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd;
('Tis some mother's large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Eulogy for a Veteran
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

-Author Unknown

a poem

They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Out from the stone embrace.
They are but come so close
We need not grope with hands,
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet.
They have put off their shoes
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream - led paths
Of sleep.
They are not lost who find
The sunset gate, the goal
Of all their faithful years.
Not lost are they who reach
The summit of their climb,
The peak above the clouds
And storms. They are not lost
Who find the light of sun
And stars and God.
They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed
They live a life again,
And shall live through the years
Eternal life, and grow
Each day more beautiful
As time declares their good,
Forgets the rest, and proves
Their immortality.

By Hugh Robert Orr


No_Newz said...

Totally worth a rerun sweetie! Have a great trip. Be safe, have fun and don't talk to strangers, unless they are really friggin' cute. ;)
Happy Memorial day!
Lois Lane

AubreyJ said...

Very... Very nice...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Excellent poems and post Nic. As Lois said, it's worth a re-run.

Duke_of_Earle said...

I enjoyed it too, Nic. I don't think I was blogrolling you last May (my loss), so thanks for posting this.


Anne said...

Ah, the "words" to Taps. Just visited Arlington recently and saw a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was telling my daughter there were words somewhere to Taps.

I'll show her this :)