A tribute to the fallen.

Bob Hubbard

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Today in the US is Veterans Day, and in Canada it is Remembrance day... a day that we remember those who gave the supreme sacrifice so that we may enjoy freedom. My family has served proudly in 2 world wars, in Korea and in Vietnam. My friends have served in Europe, in Africa and in Asia. To all of them, I say thank you.

What follows is a short collection of information, poems and tributes to those who fought for all of us.

Peace.

Bob Hubbard
-MartialTalk Owner.

===========

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.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:
Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

Thanks to Mack Welford for reminding me of this great poem.

====
Poem and commentary taken from http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net

=================

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

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.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

-- Laurence Binyon


===========

Origins of Veterans Day:
In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial gestures all took place on November 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as "Armistice Day".

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holidiay 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.


Armistice Day Changed To Honor All Veterans


Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.

On Memorial Day 1958, two more unidentified American war dead were brought from overseas and interred in the plaza beside the unknown soldier of World War I. One was killed in World War II, the other in the Korean War. In 1973, a law passed providing interment of an unknown American from the Vietnam War, but none was found for several years. In 1984, an unknown serviceman from that conflict was placed alongside the others. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, The 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day and night vigil.

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.


National Ceremonies Held at Arlington


The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb. The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays "taps." The rest of the ceremony takes place in the amphitheater.

Every year the President of the United States urges All Americans to honor the commitment of our Veterans through appropriate public ceremonies.

-Taken from http://www.vfw.org/amesm/origins.shtml
===============

Why Remember
We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument. (Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War, Toronto, Lorimer, 1977.)

These wars touched the lives of Canadians of all ages, all races, all social classes. Fathers, sons, daughters, sweethearts were killed in action, were wounded, and many of those who returned were forever changed. Those who stayed in Canada also served - in factories,, in voluntary service organizations, wherever they were needed.

Yet, for many of us, war is a phenomenon viewed through the lens of a television camera or a journalist's account of battles fought in distant parts of the world. Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of wartime memorabilia in a family attic. But even items such as photographs, uniform badges, medals, diaries can seem vague and unconnected to the life of their owner. For those of us who were born during peacetime, all wars appear to be far removed from our daily activities.

As Canadians we often take for granted our current way of life, our freedom to participate in cultural and political events, and our right to live under a government of our choice. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our constitution ensures that all Canadians enjoy protection under the law. The Canadians who went off to war in distant lands went in the belief that such rights and freedoms were being threatened. They truly believed that "Without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace no enduring freedom." (King George VI at dedication of National War Memorial, Ottawa, May 21, 1939.)

In remembering their service and their sacrifice, we recognize the tradition of freedom they fought to preserve. These men and women had faith in the future and by their acts gave us the will to preserve peace for all time. On Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the courage and gallantry of those who served their country.

During times of war, individual acts of heroism occurred frequently; only a few were recorded and received official recognition. In remembering all who served, we recognize the many of willingly endured the hardships and the fear so that we could live in peace.

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Canadian information:
http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/remembranceday.htm

Australian information:
http://www.acn.net.au/articles/remembrance/

United States information:
http://www.patriotism.org/veterans_day/
 

Jay Bell

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Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground Ill not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

Where before many more have gone

In memory of Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie
Seaforth Highlanders
Who along with many others gave up his life
So that we can live free

We will remember them
 

MA-Caver

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Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground...
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down.

~Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young~
:asian:
 

ABN

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This was written three years ago. With the permission of the author, I am posting it here.


The world's forgotten...
in a world that lost it's heroes long ago
You fought not for glorious ideas
for you and I know the truth.
That war is a nasty bloody business with a
soul all its own
It calls upon bloodlust, instinct, and a desire to live
so that we may say when it is done
We are better men for the experience.
No my friend I still don't have the answers
just as I didn't on that street 7 years ago.
Today I wear more ribbons and stripes than I did then
I carry far more wisdom especially in my eyes but you know this
I am sure that the life you now know gives you sight beyond our mortal ken
That you see the tears and pain that creased the wrinkles around my eyes.
War did no more for me than to make me value peace and to share that with your son.
I raise my arm in salute your son beside me in childlike obedience does
the same
For sharing peace with him my friend I know one thing
I AM a better man for this experience."

Arlington, Nov 11th 2000
 
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