They “Took the Bullet” for Me

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.

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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

(poetryfoundation.org)

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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.

(usmemorialday.org)

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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.

(WinstonChurchill.org)

2 Responses

  1. I also have always had an appreciation for the sacrifices the fighting men and their families have made over the many years since our country was founded. My father fought in WWII and earned many medals and accolades for his heroic and selfless deeds. Having a war hero for a father gave me great pride and eventually led me to join the Army right after high school graduation in 1964. With the war in Viet Nam getting more involved by the day I saw it as an opportunity to prove to my dad that I also had what it takes to proudly serve my country.

    I have always loved to read about our Civil War and our Revolutionary War and our involvement in World War II, as well as the Korean War. The swelling of pride within my chest has never left me. Iam so happy to read your writing, reminding everyone that this Memorial Day isn’t about barbecues. Our older generations need reminding of what we are honoring and the younger generations might just learn what it’s all about for the first time in their lives. I thank you for that.

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