SEMPER COMMEMORATUS

31. October 2006, 23:45 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Poppy Lest We Forget Poppy

THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD AS WE THAT ARE LEFT GROW OLD;
AGE SHALL NOT WEARY THEM NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN.
AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING,
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

For The Fallen, (1914) Stanza 4, by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Lest we Forget
Lest we Forget

In Flanders Fields
(1915, Ypres, France)

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.

- John McCrae, Lt. Col.
Canadian Medical Corps.
1874-1918


Poppy Poppy Graphics courtesy of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Korean Veteran's Poster courtesy of Veteran's Affairs Canada.


It is during November that we celebrate Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day). It is a time for reflection on what has gone before and the lessons learned. It is a time to remember and venerate the honoured dead who gave of their lives in service to their countries during times of war, and of peace, and to honour those living who have and do serve in both war and peace.

+   In Memoriam   +

United States Marine Corps.

William David Milner

1928 - 2006

Loving Father
Devoted Husband
Loyal Friend

Requiescat In Pace

Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (R)
1948 - 1956
Korean War

Semper Fidelis

“But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it.”

— Thucydides

But the meaning doesn't begin and end on November 11th as the following clearly demonstrate.

Veteran's Day

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag.
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Another Rememberance thought.

What is a Veteran?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating 2 gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of gas.

He is the barroom loudmouth whose frat-boy behaviour is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th parallel in Korea.

She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another.

He is the drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning lazy no-accounts into Marines and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the parade riding legionnaire who pins on this ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the anonymous hero in The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, whose presence preserves the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield.

He is the white-haired old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp.

A vet is an ordinary and extraordinary human being - someone who offered his life's most vital years in the service of his country. He is a soldier and a saviour and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe.

Note: The above two pieces are technically anonymous but have usually been attributed to Father Denis Edward O'Brien MM; Sergeant, USMC(ret); Chaplain to the First Marine Division Association. (1923-2002)

And another:

Heroes
by Jared Jenkins

In war, there are lives risked and lives taken
Men and women giving their best to defend what they love
They defend their country
Their honor
Their people

Some call them soldiers
Others call them heroes

Our veterans have risked their lives for us
They have lived and fought with honor
Many have killed

For every life, there is a soul
For every soul, there is a life
For those who have died, we show great appreciation and remembrance
For those who live, along with them live the horrific memories of battle
Some, memories of defeat
Some, memories of victory

Our veterans were more than soldiers
They were, and still are heroes

Written long before the war in Afghanistan:

Old Vets and Little Boys
by Delores Campbell

The old vet’s hand shook slightly, perhaps it was the cold.
The small boy waited patiently ’til the poppy pin took hold.
His father dropped some money in the metal money can.
The old vet smiled his thank you, and off the small boy ran.
The old vet watched him running, so innocent, so young.
What could the poppy mean to one whose life had just begun?
How could he know the horror for which the flower stood:
the bodies bent and broken, their spirits turned to wood.
Would someone someday tell him of those who went to war?
Of those whose lives were ended, and those who came home sore?
Sore in mind and body with thoughts of comrades gone;
Whose hearts were stilled forever, whose eyes would not see dawn.
And what about the sorrow of those who watched them go?
Those whose lives were changed in ways that only God could know.
Sometimes the old vet wondered if he too should forget.
But war must be remembered and vigilance be kept.
And poppies must be symbols of costly freedom won.
And old vets should be heroes to every father’s son.

I found an interesting variation on a Night Before Christmas while preparing some seasonal content. While principally for the Christmas season, I think it appropriate here to mention Merry Christmas My Friend

Readers might also be interested in a rather touching story of compassion and romance sprung from the depths of war in The Little Dutch Girl’s Coat.

This article has appeared in slightly different form on this site every November since 1996. Prior to that it was published as the opening page on the site owner’s BBS since 1986.

- 30 -

Categories: ,
Keywords: veterans,remebrance,war,peace,sacrifice,poppy,poppies,lest we forget,armistice

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