Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day, when we pause to remember those who have died in service to our nation. Here are three good articles that honor this day and our fallen heroes.

Colonel Tom Manion, USMCR (Retired) wrote a heartfelt article this past Friday, Why They Serve. Please go check it out.

USA Today relates an emotional story of a WW II pilot and POW who would not rest until he found the remains of the rest of his crew: Why the US Military Scours the Earth for its Fallen Soldiers.

Lily Burana writes about a haunting picture that pays tribute to the spouses who wait for the homecoming that sometimes never comes. (H/T to Libertas and Latte)

Please keep comments on-topic. We can talk about America's sins another day. Today belongs to the war dead.

In Flanders Fields by 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.


MathewK said...

Nicely said Silver.

It's never ceases to amaze me how westerners revere and honor those who protect them, you Americans in particular.

Thank you to those who have served and who still serve.

Bunkerville said...

Well said, and thanks for the great poem that is always so moving.

Unknown said...

Amen to that my Brother.

Anonymous said...

Yes! God bless those that served and those that are serving.

Hack said...

And thanks for your service as well!

Anonymous said...

For some reason a line from "Memories" keep haunting me today:

"Tell me, if we had it all to do over again, would we? –– could we?"

Apply that to the past hundred years -- knowing what we know now -- and try to answer the question.

The song (from The Way We Were) has nothing to do with the sacrifice made by so many in war, it's about nostalgia for a failed marriage between two people from radically different worlds who should never have gotten together in the first place. They tried, but just couldn't make a go of it.

Love wasn't enough to conquer "all" by any means.

I've always found the song and the movie to be infinitely sad, but it says things about human nature that apply universally.

Odd that I would post anything to do with Barbra Streisand, but I've always admired her talent in spite of her politics.

Here's the song, if you feel like listening:

Remember the line "... If we had it all to do over ... would we? ... could we?"

It gives me chills every time I hear it.

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

In Flanders Fields always gets to me.
Thank you for your service, SF, and thanks to all the soldiers.
That Manion story is so touching and important, reminding us that, to the families of the fallen, every day is Memorial Day.
God bless them all, and their families.
Beautiful post.

Always On Watch said...

Back when I was in school, we were required to memorize "In Flanders Fields" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

5th grade, I think.

Always On Watch said...

That essay by Lily Burana is particularly moving -- at least, for me. Perhaps because I can easily identify with a wife using her laptop and knowing that her husband will never again be back home in the sense that she hoped for -- and will long for for a long, long time, perhaps forever. Think about my situation, and you'll know exactly why I feel that way.

Always On Watch said...

Have you seen THIS? Disgusting!

Stogie said...

In addition to "Flanders Fields" (my favorite war poem) I also recommend Alan Seeger's "I have a rendezvous with death," as well as the Mexican war poem, "Bivouac of the Dead."

Thanks for honoring our fallen.

KP said...

Anon, to paraphrase Carl Sagen, the chief deficiency as you argue the last few days is the ploarization: Us vs. Them.

When that occurs the reader is left with the sense that you must think you have a monopoly on the truth. This attitude, that says "you'll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you", is not constructive. It does not get any useful message across. It condemns the user to permanent minority status.

Kid said...

Hear Hear.

Silverfiddle said...

KP: You'd have more success talking to a doorknob (actually, maybe you were).

The person obviously can't read and does not respect what this day stands for.

You don't have to support the wars to support the troops and to honor their memories

Fabius Maximus says it better than I could...

Jersey McJones said...

On Memorial Day we should always remember the Civil War, the event that started this "holiday," when 600,000 Americans murdered one another to make a more perfect union, a place without slavery and feudalism.

It is terrible what we have asked of our young fighting men, and though sometimes we had no choice, often we did.

Never forget - the vast majority of all wars ever fought were avoidable.

Remember that.

Memorialize that.


Silverfiddle said...


Thank you for reading what I wrote and respecting it. I know you are a patriotic American and that you honor our war dead.

Nobody, nobody can be more anti-war than a person who has been in one.

I agree with you that many, many wars could have been avoided.

Kid said...

WWI must have been one of the worst. Fighting a stalemate in the worst imaginable conditions as far as day after day after conditions goes.

War IS insane, but as long as evil exists, then thank these men and women on the front lines who can't ever be thanked properly.

KP said...

I just listened to the father of a Marine killed last year on a night mission he volunteered for. He was asked how he would like people to celebrate Memorial Day. He said, "have a BBQ, enjoy baseball, go to the beach, hug your children, laugh ... and enjoy all the things the fallen have helped provide for us; but remember them.

Granted, he is closer to the situation than those of us who have not lost immdediate family to war. And his perspective is diverted away from the Civil War andn the politics of avoidable conflict/war.

There are another 364 days a year to contemplate andf remember avoidable war. Today I will remember the fallen.

Ducky's here said...

When Newshour posts the photos of the latest war dead I feel so much ambivalence.

I've seen a LOT of death in my life including the young but I still can't get over the tragedy of so many young people dying.

And I feel a lot of anger that we never gave them a better mission. We must cynically manipulate with the false "freedom and democracy" meme. I'm afraid we owe them an apology that we won't admit. They clearly deserved better.

Please forgive us.
Here's one we don't make them memorize.

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Ducky's here said...

Randall Jarrell
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

KP said...

That captures Jarrell's style. A very bright man, a manic at times and a critic. Still, a point of view to consider as many of us are critics and feel ups and downs emotionally.

OD357 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OD357 said...

Hey Silver, I pocket dialed Ricardo yesterday at the shooting range. When he called back he told me he was in DC at the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. Pretty cool. read more about it and get the link to the official site at

Silverfiddle said...

I haven't talked to Ric in a few years...

That brings back some memories...

Night Cats...

Put down the cheap shit OD!

Anonymous said...

Canardo knows that FreeThinke posted Dulce et Decorum Est at AOW's two days ago. We had quite a bit of discussion about it there which I wish many others had joined.

FreeThinke also posted In Flanders Fields on the same thread shortly thereafter, and Kipling's The Charge of the Light Brigade along with lesser known works by Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson and Kathy Sanderson Zwick.

Mark posted a stirring work by Eric Bogle.

All these poetic works are singularly appropriate for the contemplation of courage, sacrifice, death -- and the colossal waste humanity makes of life's great opportunities in its ceaseless attempts to achieve dominance and exercise suzerainty over others through treachery, intimidation, and violence.

That Canardo always fails to acknowledge anything worthwhile in what others are saying, and then likes to take credit for what others have already said and done is frankly ignoble.

Visit AOW's blog. There's a lot of good stuff over there, as well as here at WH, on the meaning and implications of Memorial Day.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Good old Randall Jarrell always full of encouraging sentiments and heartening, inspiring imagery!

A great poet, I suppose, but almost as bad as Ezra Pound in his relentless flow of austere, appallingly dreary, invariably dispiriting views of life.

His work might possibly be categorized as An Invitation to Commit Suicide.

Beauty may be found in bleakness, of course, but not in utter blackness.

Shakespeare always provided "comic relief" in even his most violent tragedies.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

There once was a soldier from Wheeling
Who for cannons had sexual feeling.
Into a big gun
He climbed looking for fun
But wound up being scraped off the ceiling.

~ by FT

Anonymous said...

More Jarrell waxing sardonic:


Did they send me away from my cat and my wife
To a doctor who poked me and counted my teeth,
To a line on a plain, to a stove in a tent?
Did I nod in the flies of the schools?
And the fighters rolled into the tracer like rabbits,
The blood froze over my splints like a scab --
Did I snore, all still and grey in the turret,
Till the palms rose out of the sea with my death?
And the world ends here, in the sand of a grave,
All my wars over? How easy it was to die!
Has my wife a pension of so many mice?
Did the medals go home to my cat?

~ from "Little Friend, Little Friend"
October 13, 1946

Submitted by FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

Wee Freethinker, I had no idea what was or what was not posted at AOW's. Haven't read much there.

But I will insist that we show respect to the dead by deconstructing the mindless memes that indoctrinate many.

Is it not up to the living to do something about the tragedy of many dying for a lie?

Silverfiddle said...

It's a madness that grips humanity, Ducky. We are flawed vessels.

Trekkie4Ever said...

Thank you for sharing, Silver. Wonderful tribute.

Anonymous said...

If you opened AOW's link, the meaning of this small opus should be clear to you:

[NOTE: Chris Hayes of NBC News said on air that he was “uncomfortable” with calling our fallen war veterans “heroes.” Let the following serve as a well-deserved tribute to this immortal imbecile.]

Here’s to Chris Hayes

Let us hope the days

Of the jerk Chris Hayes

Are numbered

And may he be annoyed

When he's soon unemployed

And by unpaid bills encumbered.

Vengeance belongs to God

But wouldn’t it be odd

If Hayes died at peace while he slumbered?

~ FT - 5/28/12