|A World Still At War|
|Opinion - Global Warning|
|Lisa Jain Thompson|
|Monday, 28 May 2012 08:00|
Fairfax, VA, USA. We have been at war for as long as I have been alive. I have high school classmates, some of whom I knew in elementary school, who did not make it back from Viet Nam.
I have relatives who fought and died or were injured in World War II. My father fought in China, my uncles in Europe, my cousin in the Pacific for the Navy. The Fifth Column killed a relative after the war had officially ended.
If I trace the line back far enough, my ancestors engaged the enemy in World War I and both the American Civil and Revolutionary Wars. My Iroquois fought and killed most anybody.
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.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918) Canadian Army
3 May 1915, At Flanders Fields
John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance near an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres. It was just a day after he presided over the funeral and burial of his friend Lieutenant Alex Helmer, who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres.When I was three or four, the Army recalled my next door neighbor to participate in the Korean War. I have friends and co-workers who fought in Bosnia, fought in Desert Storm, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and am acquainted with those who fought the Cold War and the one that continues now behind the headlines.
The war goes on.
Peace is an abnormality; war, humanity’s normal state. Africa, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, I know someone who knows someone who was there. Up and down Central and South America we have fought.
I freely admit there is blood on our hands, but our enemies are neither innocent nor bloodless. We enter into this world with full knowledge that our hands are and will be stained. The world is not a gentle place.
Open a newspaper. Turn on your radio or television. Click on MSNBC, CNN, Google, or Fox. Behind the paparazzi and the Kardashians, the stand-up snark, the distortions of local politics, the world is in turmoil.
There are strangers among us who would have us dead. I expect we will be at war when I take my last breath.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have given their lives in the service of the United States. [N1] First proclaimed in 1868 by General John Logan, Commander in Chief of the Army of the Republic, many cities and towns lay claim to being its birthplace. It is difficult to prove its exact origins.
Memorial Day seems to has been born spontaneously in the aftermath of the Civil War in memory of the 750,000 – 850,000 Americans who died in its battles. [N2] Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, no one forgot the blood and destruction.
Following Logan’s General Order No. 11, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, 30 May 1868. A remembrance, now embracing all wars, that repeats itself in cemeteries across the United States and around the world.
Memorial Day should unite and not divide us. We honor, as one people, all those who died serving our nation. Their blood is our blood. Their family is our family. One Union surrounds us.
I remember too many of the buried. I suspect I will remember too many more before I leave this planet and join our mutual past. No one said life would be easy.
The Call for Decoration DayGeneral Order No. 11
Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude, -- the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN,
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
Notes[N1] Originally called Decoration Day.
[N2] David Hacker, Counting The Dead, New York Times, September 20, 2011.
|Last Updated on Monday, 28 May 2012 14:57|