Friday, 6 November 2009

nationality confused, but heart in the right place

Veterans Day is coming up.

Both my grandfathers served in the Second World War, and I grew up hearing stories about how they served, the things they saw, and how they came back so irretrievably changed...

It chokes me, thinking of them so young and resolute, doing their duty for freedom.

So Thursday I was a hot mess while I was typing up the bulletins for the Remembrance Day service. Copying out the Flanders Fields poem always makes me gulp and waver and soften -I'm glad I was in the office alone.

In Flanders Fields
Written by John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Lieutenant Colonel, Canadian Army

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.


I came home resolved to hug my children a long time that night.

We were in that after-bath-but-before-bed haze, reading books on my bed, and the drowsy girl next to me began to warble a little ditty she learned at school that day.

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row...

(What? It's a song now?)

I stilled and she broke off.

That song makes me sad, I said.

'Oh!' she said, jumping to a new topic. 'Here, let me show you how I can speak Spanish!'

And then she let out a 'Yodelay-hee-hoo!' worthy of any Swiss Miss.

3 comments:

Beck said...

My oldest is always in the Remembrance Day choir and there's something extra-heartbreaking about her sweet childish voice singing songs to young soldiers who died 70 years ago.

Poor boys.

Molly said...

War is ugly and senseless. You'd think we'd have learned by now....But still we send brave young lads and lasses, with their whole lives ahead of them, into the possibility of death or maiming.....and for what?
Hug them for me too....

Ree said...

That poem never fails to make me sob.