Write Again … In Flanders Fields

Published 2:41 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row,”/

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent, and all was “quiet on the Western front.”

“That mark our place; and in the sky/ The larks, still bravely singing, fly/ Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

It was 1918. Ninety-nine years ago. Thus ended the most horrific conflagration the world had ever known.

“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.”

Woodrow Wilson. Gen. John J. (Black Jack) Pershing. Sgt. Alvin York. Thousands upon thousands of doughboys whose names are lost to the ages.

It was first called Armistice Day. Then it came to be known as Veterans Day.

A day of remembrance, not only for those “who gave the last full measure of sacrifice” in the Great War, but for all who answered their country’s call, in all the many wars this nation has known.

And today, in the finest tradition we can embrace, cities, towns, villages and hamlets all across this land will pause on the 11th hour to acknowledge, to observe, to consecrate — to remember.

There will be, as customary, such an observance here at Veterans Park. Most citizens won’t attend. Most citizens have never attended a Veterans or Memorial Day observance. Rarely do young people attend.

Then, starting at 1 p.m. at the Turnage Theatre, there will be an afternoon of music, a gift to all the people in tribute to all of our veterans; those who have stood their final formation, and those who still tarry for a while, here in this journey.

And the fallen of that long ago war? For some of them, “We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”

Note — “In Flanders Fields” was written by Lt. Col. John McRae, a member of the first Canadian contingent, who died in France on Jan. 28, 1918, after four years of service on the western front.