We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields

Carla Axtman

Remembering those who gave their life for our country...

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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.

(h/t Brian Schefke)

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    Thank you Carla. Unfortunately this was not the war to end all wars.

    My best thoughts and wishes to all those serving in our military, past, present and future.

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    My father died in 2004 in my arms. when he was 19 years old he fought on the Pacific Island of Peleliu in the Palau Island chain, a place he never heard of. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in combat. He was one of five men of his company who walked away from the Battle of Bloody Nose Ridge, to take the high ground to protect an airfield. Most of his buddies died in that battle. He carried Bloody Nose Ridge and Okinawa to his dying day and the horrific violence he participated in. We are just beginning to realize that young men and women, if they survive combat, don't survive the wounds of psyche and soul they will carry for the rest of their lives. Yet he survived being shot by a sniper on Okinawa, and later, alcoholism and divorce, to become an alcohol counselor who worked with veterans of violent combat to help them recover and have a life, as he learned to do. At the end of his life he became my best friend, and he died in my arms.

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      Wow. Peleliu was a horrific part of the Pacific campaign. Every man who was there paid more than their fair share of hardship in the war effort.

      My father caught the tail end of WWII after lying about his age to get into the Navy. He served mainly during Korea and Vietnam, though he was carrier-based for the former, and was working on bases state-side and then in Europe during the later.

      His brother served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam, and flew reconnaissance missions (Vigilante driver) during the war.

      My sister served in the Navy during Vietnam, but was state-side at first and then stationed in Japan during the war.

      My cousin was a graduate of West Point in 1985, but his life was cut short due to being hit by a drunk-driver while stationed on Oahu a year after he graduated.

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    Today our Deficit Commission honors the sacrifice of our veterans of war by proposing that they be responsible for co-pays in the medical services they are entitled to, present and future recipients.

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    Thanks for posting this, Carla. I echo some of Bill's comments. My father served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He was in Europe in WWII and was among some of the GIs that libertated concentration camps. I was in DC a couple of weeks ago and visited the Holocast (sp?) Museum. It was heart breaking to visit it but it gave me a snapshot of what he must have seen. He never talked much about his experience but I know that, and other experiences in the war my mother shared with me, scarred him for life. He (my father) took his own life in 1991 and I will believe as long as I live that a big part of it was due to what he experienced in his military service. That is why I am outraged at the lack of assistance to our new and existing vets. The individudals and their families pay a huge price for their service. Yet when they come home they are virtually abandoned. There was a recent report on 60 minutes of the huge numbers of vets who are homeless and how quickly the current vets are becomeing homeless vs. Vietnam Vets. It is shamefull! I don't always support the 'wars' they are sent to fight (we all know what's behind them and it ain't always democracy!) but I do support and respect the indiduals who volunteer to go. Thanks for letting me vent!

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    This is arguably the worst war poem in English that is still being cited and quoted. The first two stanzas are admittely touching in evoking a military cemetery. But then the speaker of the poem turns bitter and polemical in calling for--more war. It's as though the speaker learned nothing from what the great British WWI poet Wilfred Owen called "the pity" of war. It is Owen's unforgettable poem (mostly in English) "Dulce Et Decorum Est" that we should be quoting:

    If . . . you too could pace / Behind the wagon we flung him in, / . . . My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old lie: [it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.] (1917)

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      I prefer this

      The Green Fields of France

      Last verse:

      And I can't help but wonder, now Willie McBride, Do all those who lie here know why they died? Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?" Did you really believe that this war would end wars? Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain, For Willie McBride, it all happened again, And again, and again, and again, and again.
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    Honestly, I chose this because my grandfather (who fought in WW2) had it among some things of his I came across a number of years back. When I saw it again today, it reminded me of him.

    And frankly, I think the second stanza is absolutely beautiful. The imagery it evokes is stunning to me.

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    "If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields."

    I guess the poet intends to mean that he really thought WW1 was the "war to end wars"; therefore, in his vision, if we do not keep faith with that idea then more wars will occur.

    The Treaty of Versailles pretty much screwed that vision, as far as Europe was concerned.

    But what about all the other (ongoing, continuous, everlasting) wars that have happened since, which had and have nothing to do with the European situation?

    Due next week: 2014 is the new "deadline" for beginning withdrawal from Agfhanistan.

    And the idea of this poem as regards that situation and others the U.S. has been involved in is irrelevant- does "keeping faith" with the dead US servicepeople as regards US imperialism somehow portend and end to that imperialism? If it does, I certainly don't know how it does.

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    My GGF fought in the trenches for King and country during W.W.I. and was gassed.

    I always wondered why my GF didn't want to talk about his childhood in N. England until Mom told me.

    God bless them all.

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