I think this is a day that we all need to remember. That one would give their life for another is something that transcends all political or social views. I have immense respect for all soldiers and as such think this is a day I should not contribute my own poor poetry.
Therefore, here is a smathering of poems I feel should be remembered and read by all. I hope you enjoy them and remember their meaning:
In Flanders Field:
Arguably one of the most reknown poems from a war, this poem came from Lt. Col. John McCrae. McCrae wrote the poem after seeing the death of a fellow soldier. He threw the poem out, but thankfully an officer saved it from the trash. Which goes to show that you should never throw away a poem no matter how much you hate it at the time.
Another side note: I am not sure if this tradition is common knowledge to many of us younger generations, but the wearing of red poppies to honor of the fallen was a result of this poem, along with one from Moina Michael that follows.
In Flanders Fields
Lt. Col. John McCrae
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.
Here is the response by Moina Michael:
We Shall Keep the Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
Here is another selection I think fitting:
A Nation's Strength
Not gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor's sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly --
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
The next poem was also written during WWI. An interesting note: The first and last lines of the poem were borrowed by Ronald Regan during his address to the nation after the NASA Challenger disaster.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward, I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Finally, this poem has some of my sentiment of not wanting to write today, but with a very cynical tone to it directed at politicians. It was written in 1928.
On Being Asked For a War Poem
William Butler Yeats
I THINK it better that in times like these
A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter's night.
I guess the last thing I will leave you with is a link to the Poetry Foundation. The link will lead you to a few poems about Sept. 11th. I decided to link it for I feel this is the link that defines most of the current generations. For most of the younger generations, I would argue that the word "poppy" is usually followed by the word "drugs." The image of Flanders Field is not readily available to most. Therefore, I think it is important to remember Sept. 11th as we honor all soldiers who gave their lives.