This time of year is when many of us around the world stop tomorrow at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month to remember those who served our countries. They left their farms, factories and families to travel at the behest of their country to protect the rights of the threatened and / or oppressed.
For Canadians, this isn’t new. As a young nation, we were built by the blood, sweat and tears of a multitude of nations. It wasn’t always equitable. War never is. History is always written by the victor and the voices of the losers are seldom heard. However, the voice of the fallen is never heard.
Canadian Major John McCrae gives the best voice to those who died in the service of their country. Written during World War I, beside a medical station at the second battle of Ypres, “In Flanders Fields” gives voice to sentiments that we should all feel. John McCrae recorded the lessons he learned from the experience.
As I drove home tonight, I was reciting the words below:
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 got stuck on the line, “We lived, ????? felt sunshine glow.” I was mortified. This is a poem that I have recited every year at the Remembrance Day service since I can remember.
I realized that not only must we remember those who died, we must remember that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who returned. If our obligation to their sacrifice doesn’t end when they come home, when does it end?
Never. We owe it to them to make it right.