We need to remember

Today is dedicated to those who have preserved our freedom with the ultimate sacrifice.  Steve and I hit the local Memorial Day parade and laying of the wreath today, and it was a joy to be part of something bigger than any one of us- the collective pride and spirit of a great country.  The bickering that engulfs us will not strengthen us, it will divide us.  At least on this day, we can unite and honor those who are brave enough to march into harm’s way.  

An additional theme is emerging on this day of remembrance:  that for every soldier who makes the ultimate sacrifice, there are parents, siblings, wives and children whose lives are irreparably altered.  We need to minister to them, support them, and remind them of our gratitude.  

Finally, we need to recognize and assist those who return in body, but not in soul.  Our Veteran’s Administration and the hospitals it provides are severely over worked.  Suicide and Post Traumatic stress are daunting challenges.  Families whose returning veterans are walking wounded and without hope need resources as well. 
 A day is just the start of our devotion- we should pray for peace, and pray for the well being of all those whose lives are rearranged by the cruelty of battle.  It is what we owe our soldiers, past and present, living and dead.  
To me, the greatest poem about the cruelty of war was written by an anguished doctor in World War I. The earth, ravaged by battle and turned over for graves, welcomed the poppy seeds that require raw earth to grow.  And so as loss of life and sadness engulfed him, Dr. John McRae captured the incongruous scene in front of him: death and life, in the form of cheerful red poppies.

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.

Flanders or red corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas), close-up, wildflowers

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