Veterans Day

November 11, 2019 Continue reading “Veterans Day”

Saturday Afternoon Coffee

I’m sorry I didn’t meet up with you earlier; is now a good time? Continue reading “Saturday Afternoon Coffee”

OBX Marathon, Part 1

The last 4ish months of training have led to this. Continue reading “OBX Marathon, Part 1”

The Veteran

Every year I share a poem for Veteran’s Day, usually something from World War I. This year, I’ve attempted my own. Continue reading “The Veteran”

Veterans’ Day and NaNoWriMo

Why is it NaNoWriMo schedules never work as planned? My ideas for scheduled posts never made it off the page, I’ve only written 300 words of NaNoWriMo, and – to top it off – I’m feeling under the weather.

 

National Cemetery

 

But today is Veterans’ Day. Last week, the school put on its biannual Veterans’ Day Program – this particular one held special significance for two reasons: I wrote the program and the school chose to honor Mr. Tom, a 97-year old WWII veteran who just so happens to be my grandfather (who isn’t really my grandfather – you know how those family friends work). This was the first time in years he felt well enough to get out of the house for an extended period of time – he still lives at home in the house he built with his own hands back in the 40s and 50s – and stayed for the entire program. You can watch the program here:

 

 

As usual, I’ve also selected a poem for Veterans’ Day:


                       Grass
                 by Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
     I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers 
  ask the conductor:
     What place is this?
     Where are we now?

     I am the grass.
     Let me work.

 

And now, since school is out today, it’s time to play catch up on NaNoWriMo. Will I be able to write 16,500 words in one day? Probably not, but I’m sure going to try.

Oktober Miscellany

With October well under way, I thought I’d share my thoughts over the past few weeks.

police qr code
If we can’t use our phones while we drive, how is this not entrapment?

What do you mean, October’s over? It was only yesterday I saw the QR code on the police cruiser and had the idea for this post.

Really? Four weeks?

So no-go on the QR code, then.

guyfawkesmaskI guess I’ll just have to settle for Reformation Day.

I missed that, too? Well, there’s always Guy Fawkes Day.

That’s over? How did I miss it? I was too busy dressing up as a plague doctor?

medieval doctor plague maskIMG_1701

What Brittany Maynard, I’ve got some . . .

VOTEOh. Okay.

I know, the election!

Seriously?

Veterans Day?

Dang.

Belated Veteran’s Day: 2 Poems for Reflection

Armistace Headline

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day here in the United States, elsewhere called Armistice Day. Originally intended to celebrate the end of World War One, Veteran’s Day now honors all those service personnel still living (both active and retired). For the past 48 hours or so I’ve been reflecting on two poems written during the First World War.

The first – “In Flanders Fields” – was written by Canadian physician John McRae. Its success has made it widely popular, and some credit the poem with popularizing the remembrance poppy. I remember memorizing this poem for a patriotic program in elementary school, and it has stuck with me ever since.

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.

The second poem – “Dulce Et Decorum Est” –  was written by Wilfred Owen, a poet I was not introduced to until my college years. If I recall correctly, my freshman speech instructor used it as a dramatic reading. Her impassioned presentation brought Owen’s recollections to life and – I think – began my disillusionment with America’s military complex. It made me realize the reality of war and the myriad complexities involved in recovering from what one has seen, heard, and done in the name of one’s country.

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 disappointed shells 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 floundering 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.

Memorial Day 2013

National Cemetery New Bern, North Carolina
National Cemetery
New Bern, North Carolina

Today is Memorial Day, and, although they are similar, Memorial Day is not Veterans Day.

On Memorial Day, we remember those who have died in the service of their country, either in battle or as a result of battle.

On Veterans Day, we honor former military personnel, wether they served in war or in peace. In general, Veterans Day is supposed to recognize living veterans for their courage and sacrifice; it is on this day we assure our veterans that they are not forgotten.

Memorial Day: A Brief History

Memorial Day was first observed on May 28, 1868. At that time it was called Decoration Day, and was set aside to specifically honor those who served on both sides of the American Civil War. This tradition continued until World War I, when it expanded to include all those killed in American wars.

Veterans Day: A Brief History

Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, was first observed in 1919. World War I had ended at 11:00 AM on November 11,1918. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 the first Armistice Day:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Twenty years later, an act of Congress made November 11 a federal holiday called Armistice Day. Just as Decoration Day was to honor Civil War veterans, Armistice Day was to honor World War I veterans. This tradition continued until 1954, when the word Armistice was changed to Veterans in order to include all American veterans.

So remember: Memorial Day honors the dead; Veterans Day honors the living. And never forget to thank a vet.

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