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Memorial Day

In every state where I have lived, folks have told the same story.  Either during or immediately after the Civil War, two old ladies were visiting a cemetery in that state, and one said to the other, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a day to remember the men who gave their lives?”

Who knows how Memorial Day really started, but within a few years of our bloodiest war, every state had a day set aside to remember the war dead.  They were different days of the year and depended on when flowers grew locally.  In the early 1970s, the Nixon administration created several Monday holidays, so for the first time there was a national Memorial Day – the last Monday in May.

It’s not a day for honoring our troops, it’s not a day for saluting veterans – it’s a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for those of us still living.  When I was a kid, we had to learn a poem written by a soldier from The Great War – World War 1. Do they still teach it now?

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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.

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