Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day

My family has grown up listening to my dad's tales of navy life during WWII and, I'm sure, thinking that everyone must have had similar wild and wacky experiences. I absolutely love to listen to Dad relive the days when he was a baker on a mine sweeper but today I would like to just take a few minutes to reflect on the much more serious nature of why we owe such a debt of gratitude to those who fought in wars past.

Today was originally dedicated (1938) to the cause of world peace and known as Armistice Day in honour of the veterans of WWI and celebrated on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the war. However, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law a bill proclaiming a national holiday for Veteran's Day and now we pay tribute to all of our veterans.

In Canada, today is known as Remembrance Day -
Background info courtesy of Wikipedia)

Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the following on May 3, 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8, that year in Punch magazine. The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders where war casualties had been buried and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day.

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.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae

2 comments:

Paul F. McDonald said...

That is a gorgeous poem. Long live the vets and all who have fallen to make the world a better place.

Though as Bart Simpson put it, there were really only three good wars. The American Revolution, World War II, and of course, the Star Wars trilogy.

"Everything's Just Smooty" said...

@ Mom - I never really thought about how he does make the Navy and World War II seem like a series of wacky hi-jinks that only briefly interrupted his baseball...ing.

@Paul - And hurrah for the Simpsons! I'm working my way through the seasons as I borrow them from a friend of mine.

Word Ver: Cridecke - definition, anyone? Definitely from the Australian vernacular.