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
Composed by Lt Col John McCrae at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Throughout my husband’s years in the military we attended many parades and participated in many ceremonies on Memorial Day but often the day simply brought quiet reflection and silent acknowledgment of the sacrifice made by the men and women who have died while in service to our country.
Although this is a day set aside to honor those who have paid the ultimate price while in uniform, when I was a child my parents would spend part of the day visiting the graves of loved ones who had passed, taking the time to clean up their headstones and leaving flowers.
There was a lot of both going on yesterday morning when I attended a Memorial Mass at a Catholic cemetery in my hometown of Cincinnati. The morning was warm, the crowd respectful, and the breezes gentle. Music floated on the air currents and for an hour I heard the very familiar words of the mass being spoken in this perfect outdoor venue.
It was a wonderful blend of faith and patriotism, mixed with the silent longing in many hearts for those who are buried here:
The family member who died of a heart attack at 37, leaving behind a grieving family that included a wife and seven young children.
The young police officer who worked on a beat with my brother-in-law.
The wife who died in October, whose husband shared with me exactly how many years, days and hours they were married, almost making it to their 65th wedding anniversary.
Most of the stories I will never know, but that doesn’t stop me from pausing.
At this cemetery, on this Memorial Day, I had the privilege of witnessing this at my parent’s final resting place. The bugler, a Vietnam Vet, spends the day playing Taps at the graves of deceased veterans.
On Memorial Day many grieve and many remember. On this day may we always make a spare moment in our lives to pause and be aware of the families who no longer share this day with those they love.