23 May, 2009

Memorial Day

     Memorial day, in America, is a time to pay tribute to soldiers that have fallen in war. For our international readers, Memorial Day began in the wake of the American civil war, and was later expanded to recognize all soldiers that have fallen in combat. Typically, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars accept donations for poppy flowers, a blossom that attained its significance during World War One through a moving poem by John McCrae (1872-1918), entitled In Flanders Field:

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.

     I think it is important to understand that regardless of political affiliation or one's opinions of American foreign policy, Memorial Day is meant as a simple yet heartfelt tribute to those who served their country, and gave the last full measure of their devotion. In the spirit of memorial day, I am inclined to have you take a look at The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. The novel, above all else, is a meaningful tribute to those who have fallen, and while it criticizes the origins of war, it has nothing but respect for those who have braved its bloody struggles.


ediFanoB said...

I'm interested in culture of other countries. So I read your post with interest. To be honest I'm suprised how many people celebrate Memorial Day. And I'm more surprised how many bloggers post about Memorial Day. That would be totally unusual in Germany. For example: on 3rd of October we celebrate German reunification. You won't find posts related to this topic - only on party websites.