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Memorial Day – a day of tribute to our Nation’s Fallen Defenders
Lee Walton

As we celebrate Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, pause to remember those who, over the past two centuries, have given the full measure of their lives to protect and defend the basic freedoms we often take for granted.

Memorial Day is about those who didn’t return; those whose parents, sweethearts, spouses and children had futures plucked from them before their collective dreams could be fulfilled. Never to be borne were the countless children of those who lost their lives in order that other citizen-soldiers could return to raise families in a nation free from the oppressive “isms” that were the catalyst of so many past wars and conflicts.

Memorial Day is much more than backyard barbeques, parades and a long holiday weekend that heralds the beginning of summer. On this special day we should also honor all living veterans who have served our Nation and returned to their families to live normal, productive lives.

In 1914, Canadian medical officer and poet John McCrae authored a brief poem to commemorate the deaths of thousands of young men who died on the fields of Flanders during several early battles of World War I. Legend has it that McCrae was inspired by the sight of the blood-red carpets of poppies blooming across the former battlefields where several of his companions had died.

In Flanders Fields is as moving today as it was almost a century ago.

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.

God bless and keep most dear the memories of those who fell in the defense of our Nation.

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