Memorial Day by Joyce Kilmer
The Wood Called Rouge Bouquet [World War I, France 1918]
Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Never Forgotten, Vietnam
The Decision to be Happy
Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do
1. Memorial Day
by Joyce Kilmer
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.
2. The Wood Called Rouge Bouquet [World War I, France 1918]
By Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them anymore.
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.
3. Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Armed Forces Day is the 3rd Saturday of May for those who currently wear the uniform. Veterans Day on November 11th is for those who used to wear the uniform. Memorial Day on the last Monday of May is for those who never made it out of uniform. ~unattributed.
4. Never Forgotten, Vietnam
By Roger Helle, Vietnam Vet
It was just one of many routine patrols in Vietnam that night. The 13-man Marine squad made their way through the village silently. The point man paused now and then to listen for any unusual sounds before continuing down the trail. They arrived at the edge of the village and began the nearly two-mile hike across open rice paddies toward their destination — a small fishing village on a tributary of the Perfume River just south of Hue, the Imperial City of South Vietnam.
It was a moonless night as they approached the village where the Viet Cong were believed to be gathering. As the squad entered the village, the stillness of the night was broken when the jungle tree line erupted in automatic-weapons fire. At the same time, a “daisy chain” of mines exploded, throwing three Marines at the end of the squad like rag dolls into the rice paddy.
When the firing stopped, stillness fell upon the trail and, like ghosts, the Viet Cong emerged from the jungle, moving quickly among the bodies of the dead or dying Marines, taking their weapons and equipment and disappearing into the night. The three Marines blown off the trail slowly regained their senses, two of whom had taken the brunt of the explosions. Shock gave way to pain and they began moaning. One 18-year-old Marine had somehow been spared and was only dazed by the force of the explosion. He called for the reaction force that was always on standby at the nearby base of Phu Bai.
After what seemed like hours but was less than 30 minutes, a helicopter landed a platoon of Marines who set up a perimeter on the trail. The two wounded men were flown to Da Nang and the third man, just a kid really, was taken back to the base at Phu Bai. The next day, the surviving Marine was told the other two Marines did not make it. It was a guilt he would carry for nearly 23 years.
It was 1989. The young Marine, now 41, stood on the rice paddy dike where his friends had died. With his family and a dozen other Vietnam veterans in over 100-degree heat, they held a memorial service for the fallen whose memory he had carried with him every day for the past 23 years. While the impromptu ceremony was being held, a crowd of villagers quietly gathered around this group of Americans, the first they had seen since the end of the war in 1975.
An elderly woman carrying a little girl came and stood next to the Marine. Through an interpreter, he told the local villagers that his friends had died here and he had come to honor their memory. The older woman walked up to the Marine and laid her head against his chest and wept. She too had suffered loss during the war, so they cried together.
Today, I am 71, but the memory of Vietnam is with me forever. I still remember Vietnam, but by God’s grace, He has taken away the pain I once had from those memories. What I do remember is the brave men I fought alongside and the love they had for their country.
A favorite saying I saw all over during my tours in Vietnam was, “To those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor that the protected will never know.”
Memorial Day is not about mattress sales, cookouts, discounted linens, or an extra day off work. It is a day to pause and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedoms that America has unlike any other nation on the face of the earth. They earned your remembrance, because freedom has a price tag!
5. The Decision to be Happy
How many happy people do you know? Would you count yourself among them? If you are like most folks, happiness is something you would like to feel, but it’s also something that you see as being “out there” in the future somewhere.
Now, if you have ever spent much time around a truly happy person, you may have noticed that their mood comes not from what’s going on around them, but from what’s going on inside them. They have a way of looking at life that doesn’t ignore the negative things but doesn’t focus on them, either.
Instead, they give the lion’s share of their attention to finding things to enjoy and appreciate. They have no trouble finding them, either. Every day, no matter where they are or what they are doing, they find things to laugh about, to celebrate, and to praise.
You know, it is an interesting fact of life that what we see is mostly what we look for. Our brains are designed to help us notice what we have decided is important, and ignore or even blind ourselves to those situations that we have decided are not important. (Yes, this can be a double-edged sword in that we can miss things we don’t realize are important. It’s about setting the goal, and being open to what we need to understand on our way to the goal.)
So if you make up your mind to be happy no matter what happens to you, you will be amazed by all the things you never noticed before, things that bring a smile or a laugh or a moment of joy. Most happy people were not born that way. At some point, they made a conscious or perhaps unconscious choice to enjoy their lives, right here and right now.
If you haven’t done so already, what do you suppose would happen if you made the same choice, starting today? ~The Pacific Institute
6. Links: Things to Think About & Things to Do