Do you have someone in your life who would “take a bullet for you”? When describing a special friend, my students would sometimes use that phrase. It indicates that one person would volunteer to experience the pain of being shot and even dying to protect another.
That’s how I feel about our veterans who have lost their lives serving my country. They didn’t know me, but I enjoy many freedoms because of their sacrifice, not just of time, talent, or energy, but the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. This concept sounds so cliché, but when I stop and contemplate it, I am humbled and grateful.
It takes someone with a clear vision, a definite conviction, and a great love for others and country to relinquish his or her life. Sticking a flag in the ground and eating burgers and brats just isn’t adequate to show our appreciation and give them honor.
Let’s protect and preserve the country that is built on the love and blood of our soldiers.
I am not a historian, but I love to read about the people involved in our history: the positive and the negative. One of my preferred genres is historical fiction because the author helps me understand the emotion and mindset of the period. Once I begin to grasp why the battles occurred and what the soldiers faced, my level of appreciation increases. So far, my kindergarten expertise includes the Civil War and World War II, but please don’t ask me any specific question; I will crumble.
I believe that unless we know, we can’t truly appreciate. We need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about our history and the people involved. Can I encourage you to choose a piece of history to learn more about this weekend before you pick up that burger or brat? History.com is an excellent source for learning. I think I am going to read about the Battle of the Bulge. I have heard about it, but honestly, I can’t remember what really happened and why that particular battle is important.
For this Memorial Day segment, I simply want to leave you with three of my favorite pieces. Even if you are allergic to poetry, please take a moment to read through and think about the meaning of “In Flanders Fields.”
I promise that you will survive. Promise. No one died from reading a poem. I’ve had a student pass out from reading Shakespeare, but he didn’t die. Let me know if you really read this and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.
In Flanders Fields
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
Variations of lyrics have been written for the bugle call, “Taps.” These are my favorite.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake, from the skies.
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
My last favorite is the conclusion of Winston Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons during a critical time of WWII. I have put it in poem form just because I think it is easier to read.
We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans;
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air.
We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be;
we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills.
We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe,
this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving,
then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on
the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might,
sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.