When I was a kid, I was in the high school marching band. We led the parade every Memorial Day. We had to stand at attention for the entire service until the last speaker recited the WW I poem, "In Flanders Fields" and "Taps" was played. As a tired high school kid, all I wanted to do was to do our formation and march back to end the parade. Even when my brother played "Taps" where there was nothing but the beautiful tone of his trumpet surrounded by total silence and heads bowed, I wasn't moved. All of the things I heard was way before my time and there was nothing in it for me.

Now,, so many years later, looking for something worthwhile to offer this Memorial Day, I thought about this poem. Now, so many years later, for he first time, I read it. I had to read it over and over again. I researched the history of the poem and found that to be even more difficult to read. Tears welled in my eyes and streaked down my face. For someone who never had to serve in the military and took all that they do for granted, I am intensely moved to see and read of the men and women who serve our country and protect even citizens like me.

All the speaker in the poem is asking is that we carry the torch for they no longer can. He says that if we won't, they can not sleep which means they will forever be in torment. It concludes that life will go on - because Poppies will still grow in Flanders Field. Can you imagine giving your all for nothing? The brave men and women who willingly protect us offer their lives so that we will be able to live ours. I know we've all seen the pictures of the child accepting the flag that covered his father's casket. We've seen the pictures of a fallen solider laying in rest while his dog-partner refuses to leave his side. And we've seen the weeping life partner beyond grief knowing that life is changed and will never be the same. There's not a lot we can do excpet be there and try to understand. We can say thank you. We can hold them in our arms.

I don't expect any comments and shortly this thread will be buried and forgotten like so many soldiers. For a good read, find Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and if you can get through it, you will be humbled to a point that you didn't think possible. You will understand all of this better.

Somehow I am simply asking that we thank those who serve.

In Flanders Fields

By Lieutenant-Colonel 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.