Take a moment to thank all of the Veterans this Veterans’ Day, for their patriotism and service. There is a sad, lovely poem written during the First World War, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and surgeon, after he witnessed the death of a friend. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae died of pneumonia during the war, in 1918.
“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 picture is my Great Grandfather, Percy Herndon, in his WWI uniform. This is before he married my Great-Grandmother, and the woman in the picture is his sister, my Great Aunt Julia, for whom I was named. Aunt Julia died before I was born, but she was a large and important presence in my mother’s life. My Great-Grandfather served in Russia, and came home safely. He married my great grandmother, and they had 5 children, 3 of whom lived to adulthood, and all 3 of whom are still alive today. (My Grandma and Great Aunt, who live together in Stockton, and my other Great Aunt, who lives a bit north of Sacramento.) I didn’t know him growing up, as he died right after we moved back to California from Alaska. But I know him through stories, and I wish I had known him better.
*The above is recycled from the last two Veterans’ Days. I love the picture of my Great Grandfather and his sister, and the poem is so moving.