This weekend marks Memorial Day, a sacred day of recognition in the United States. We at Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, will spend the weekend remembering, honoring, and mourning the United States military members who died while serving in the Armed Forces – some of whom we served with over the course of our military service.
One of history's most famous wartime poems, In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 during the First World War by Canadian officer and surgeon John McCrae. To us it provides for a time of reflection.
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.
When our Chairman, Colonel David Sutherland, was younger, his father, a Canadian Army Veteran, would share his interpretation of the poem. Dr. G. W. Sutherland (July 11, 1929 – March 18, 2021) believed that the last stanza was hoping to inspire those reading this poem to reflect on the achievements and the sacrifices of our Nation's fallen and to never forget them or their families.
We are reminded that the worst thing we can do is to forget. We can all use the opportunity created by Memorial Day to remember all those who died while serving, be it in combat, during training exercises, or through accidents and non-combat related deaths.
The narratives of those who have fallen live on through their families. These families are given the honorific "Gold Star" to designate that they have had a loved one lose his/her life in service to the nation. If you know a Gold Star family, reach out to check on them this weekend and provide encouragement. If you meet a Gold Star family member in the future, ask them to share their story, then take the time to listen.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may alter our ability to honor the fallen with parades or memorial services, it does provide an opportunity for us to create our own personal remembrances. Consider the following activities this weekend:
We at Dixon Center will always remember, and they will never be forgotten.