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Memorial Day

Natalia J. Garland

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Memorial Day is quickly upon us, and then just as quickly it will be gone. Like many Americans who live busy lives, I find that I must deliberately take the time to remember those who gave their lives for my freedom and safety. It is not that I ever really forget: because I appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of our military, because I see the images of war and death on T.V., and because I get upset with people who deny the reality of terrorism. It is, rather, that the demands of daily life, like the tufts of grass around the marble markers in a military cemetery, obscure my priorities. It takes a conscientious effort to carefully mow the grass, place a bouquet and a flag, and walk away with a liberated perspective.

The government and the public school system have re-organized our holidays into convenient 3-day weekends which all look alike and feel alike. No particular day is special. Some students have just finished their final exams, and some will take them next week, while the meaning and celebration of Memorial Day becomes comparatively minor. Before we get focused on reviewing for finals, shopping at the sales, barbecueing hamburgers in the backyard, and watching old movies on T.V., let us give back a deliberate moment of respect to those who lived their last day to make all this possible for us.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
(first printed in 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.

Flanders was a battlefield in Belgium and France. It could just as easily be in Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq. The red poppy has since become a reminder that we civilians also have a duty to be vigilant and to guard our nation's general welfare. Let us be grateful for the many sacrifices, help our returning veterans, and cherish every dawn and sunset in which we have lived freely. (Written 05/26/08: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2008 Natalia J. Garland