Memorial Day 2006

This weekend, culminating in Memorial Day tomorrow, we honor servicemen (and women) who have paid for our freedoms with their lives.


We Shall Keep the Faith

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

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,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead
.Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Today, large numbers of Americans hold such sacrifice in disdain. Indeed, in recent years, many have attended and participated in “demonstrations” that have celebrated the terrorist savages who seek to kill not only American servicemen and women but civilian non-combatans as well.

Moina Michael’s poem was instrumental in establishing “Decoration Day” (now Memorial Day) and in establishing the (apparently dying) tradition of wearing a poppy in honor of our fallen military. That the more well-known “In Flanders Fields” (John McCrae, May 1915) is “better” art, I’ll not dispute. But Moina Michael’s poem has a heart that’s sadly missing in all too many Americans today who cannot comprehend, let alone echo these lines:

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

Would that we too teach our children well, that duty and honor and sacrifice are due our deepest respect and support.

One last note: In order to maintain some sense of connection with my curmudgeonly side, I’ll not explain the significance of the phrase “Flanders field”. For those who read this who either had competent history teachers in grade school or who have taught themselves from readily available history texts, it’d be superfluous. For those who don’t know the significance of the phrase when they read it here, well, they have computers and an internet connection. I’ll not be their crutch. One word: Google. Folks who are too lazy to type a search into a Google search box are just hopeless.

Noted at Woman Honor Thyself.

8 Replies to “Memorial Day 2006”

  1. In Flanders Fields is indeed better-known, but that’s all the more reason to give us something different. Personally, I liked Moina Michael’s. The Veterans who sit outside the local supermarket seeking donations for their charity (which I won’t name here but which happens to be one of the good ones) have it printed on a sheet they hand out along with the little fabric poppies. Thanks for the Memorial Day message.

  2. Happy Memorial Day to you and yours!
    Don that red,white and blue and..Keep fightin
    the good fight David. Your’e a soldier too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks for the poppy reminder. Yes, I know Flander’s Field, but I had literally forgotten about the source of the memorial red poppy. Seldom have seen them in recent years. But then I tend to stay in on holidays — off the highway. And, yes, I did google Moina Michael.

  4. Pingback: Diane's Stuff
  5. Hugh: “And, yes, I did google Moina Michael.”

    Good on you. ๐Ÿ™‚ As all schoolboys in “our day” did, I’m sure, I memorized (and recited for a grade, of course) “In Flanders Fields”. It wasn’t until years later that I ran across the Moina Michael piece while reading up on the era. It’s kinda stuck with me ever since.

    *heh* Of course, I mentioned the Moina Michael poem to my paternal grandfather when i discovered it, and he knew it, and could recite it, along with the McCrae piece.

    RY, I haven’t seen the vets selling poppies since I moved to America’s third World County. Saw them all the time in past locales. Kinda miss that…

    Angel: Blessings on your family on this day as well.

  6. Well . . . I went on a hunt this afternoon. Found some VFW Red Poppy cloth memorials! Had a choice of three small towns nearby. Picked the closest one — it was late afternoon. First three stops – no poppies.

    On stop #4 I saw a little old man with red poppies standing by the door. By the time I parked and returned he was no longer there. As I looked around he came back in his PU to get the small table he had been using.

    I asked if he was the “Red Poppy” man. Yes. May I have one? His response, “Of course.”

    Now it became a bit embarassing for me. It’s near the end of the month when I don’t have much cash in my pocket. (The Eagle flies next Thursday.) I had enough in my hand appropriate for one “Red Poppy.”

    This VFW member was probably from WWII. He was very small in stature and could speak only with a weak raspy voice. He reached into his box of poppies in the PU and came out with a pack of 10. He attempted to pull ONE out, but was having trouble with it. Then he handed me the pack and said give these to someone else. My donation was not nearly enough!

    Had some shopping I could do in that store, but most of the employees were either wearing a poppy or with the cashiers, they were prominently displayed on their cash registers.

    Other customers at this store either were wearing a “Red Poppy” or they appeared to be people that would throw them into the closest trash bin or on the floor.

    Judgmental? Perhaps, but then I have a certain gift for discernment. It would have made me quite angry to see one thrown on the floor. Didn’t need that today.

    On the way home I had another stop at a local convenience store that I shop frequently — gasoline, etc.

    The cashier is a young woman (early 20s) that I’ve known for a couple of years. I gave her a poppy (plus her co-workers) and asked if she knew what it was for. She kinda did, but not really. So . . . I explained Flander’s Field and the Michael’s response and the history of the “Red Poppy.”

    Then I asked her if she didn’t remember any of that from HS. Her response: “No they didn’t teach us that.”

    [During the time I have known her, I’ve from time to time helped educate her in things she didn’t learn in government schools. Quite often her eyes get big and her response is similar — “they didn’t teach us that.”]

    So . . . todays “Red Poppy” gather helped me to educate one more young adult about our history. Plus, I have a small bouquet in an “on the rocks glass” by my -puter to help me remember to donate more to the VFW and other veterans’ causes this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *