Friday, November 11, 2016

Call It what you will … but MARK it …..

In a couple of hours, I will be in the audience when the Midland College (MC) Veterans Association invites the public to a special celebration on Friday, November 11 - TODAY - at 11:00 a.m. in the Scharbauer Student Center's Carrasco Room on the MC main campus, 3600 N. Garfield Street. The student members of the Veterans Association—all of whom are military veterans or dependents of military personnel—are organizing the event. The celebration will include recognition of those who served in the armed services. The public is cordially invited to attend and show their appreciation for all who have answered their nation's call to service.

If I may, some personal observations of my own on this special day, beginning with a poem written not far from the fighting front, during the 'war to end all wars' ...

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 Alexander McCrae, MD – Canadian Expeditionary Force
(Died January 28, 1918 in Boulogne, France)

Here in the U.S., one doesn’t see the poppies on people’s lapels so much, as we used to when were children ….. One of the most ridiculous victories in America’s ‘war of drugs’ was the declaration by ‘drug czars’ and their staffs that the poppy reminded people of addiction to drugs, rather than appreciation to those who gave the ‘last full measure of their devotion’ in service to their country. Such is not the case in Canada, England, and other countries that once formed the ‘Commonwealth.’ The paper poppies – and the fundraising for veterans’ relief that they represent – have been prominent in photos and video the past couple weeks.

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day ….. call it what you will ….. but find some way to mark this day. Here, in America, the focus of the day has been expanded to honor all men and women who, throughout history, have answered their country’s call to serve. There have been many in my own family, but – mindful of the origins of this particular holiday – I will remind my sons of their great-grandfather Fred, a sergeant with the 102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, and his service in France during the First World War.

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