Posted 5/22/13 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
For many Americans, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is just a long holiday that kicks off the start of the summer season. But for thousands of other Americans, Memorial Day is a very somber, but special time in their lives.
Memorial Day is, of course, the day when Americans need to stop what they are doing in their lives and pay respect to the grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, who are in service to America and to protect freedom in foreign lands paid the ultimate price.
War is not a pretty thing nor is it logical. Neither is death and dying. But in war, death, dying and destruction go hand-in-hand. From World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam to the battles that are now being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s young men and women have been thrust into wars and battle situations that are incomprehensible to most of us.
As we look back in history, some of the wars were easily justified, such as the two World Wars. But in other cases, most notably Vietnam and now in the Middle East, Americans have struggled with their commitment to war.
We, as American citizens, want peace at all cost. But unfortunately, trying to bring peace to the world often comes at a terrific price - the loss of the lives of American soldiers.
But one thing must remain constant, whether or not we understand or support this country’s involvement in a war. That constant is the tremendous debt of gratitude that all of us owe to the American servicemen and women, who have answered the call for freedom. Most especially, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those American servicemen and servicewomen who paid the ultimate price trying to bring peace to the world and in defense of the freedoms that we hold so dear. Freedom in Europe, freedom in the Middle East, freedom in Africa, and freedom anywhere else in the world to people who are suffering from the tyranny of others.
In closing this week’s column, I would like to share with you a poem written by John McCrae in 1915 as a tribute to Americans who lost their lives in World War II.
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915
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.