Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day. I always liked this day as a teacher, because every year, it meant a holiday regardless of which day of the week was November 11th that year. There is some confusion between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. Official explanations will tell you that Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have died in defense of their country, while Veteran's Day is a day to honor all who have served, both living and dead. Some explanations go so far as to say that Veteran's Day is actually dedicated to the living Veteran's. These explanations sound good, and true in part, but history is a bit more basic. Memorial Day was originally titled Decoration Day, as a day to decorate the tombs of Civil War soldiers. Veteran's Day was originally instituted to celebrate the end of the First World War. So Memorial Day has a Civil War origin, and is thus uniquely American, while Veteran's Day has a World War I origin, and is thus more international. But enough of history. I leave you with the words of John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who died in World War I:

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.

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