Memorial Day is an American holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. It is usually observed on the last Monday of May and many Americans spend the day visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, which in turn required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.
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.
© John McCrae
The Unknown Dead
Above their rest there is no sound of weeping,
Only the voice of song-birds thrills the air;
Unknown their graves, yet they are in God’s keeping,
There are none “missing” from His tender care.
He knows each hallowed mound, and at His pleasure
Marshalls the sentinels of earth and sky;
O’er their repose kind Nature heaps her treasure,
Farmed by soft winds which ’round them gently sigh.
Bravely they laid their all upon the altar,
Counting as naught the sacrifice and pain,
Theirs but to do and die without a falter—
Ours to enjoy the victory and the gain.
They are not lost; that only which was mortal
Lies ‘neath the turf o’erarched by Southern skies;
Deathless they wait beyond the heavenly portal,
In that fair land where valor never dies.
In the great heart of coming generations
Their fame shall live, their glory never cease;
Even when comes to all earth’s troubled nations
God’s perfect gift of universal peace.
©Elizabeth Robbins Berry