John McCrae – 1872-1918
IN FLANDERS FIELDS:
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.
We didn’t “break faith” with those who died. We joined a group from the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Jersey Shore Post 125. Eileen’s father served in WWII, and 4 of my uncles went to war then also.
I was a Navy doctor in a huge hospital in Virginia, during Vietnam .
Many people entering the Shrewsbury ShopRite stopped by to accept a free poppy. Most left a contribution to be used for veterans. Some told us stories like the woman whose father was present when the Japanese finally surrendered, and another visited Hiroshima recently with a Christian group, and she told how sad and moving that was.
We gave poppies to children and handed them a brief essay about the poppies. I told many people that the poppy would bring them luck, and they believed me, and I believed it because I always have one hanging from my rear view mirror. (“We all could use some luck,” they said.)
Others told me that they make sure to get a new poppy every year. Others said that the poppy reminded them of a father or an uncle who served.
Some refused a poppy even though it was free and did not require a contribution. We didn’t get that, especially on the Memorial Day weekend.
I gave one to a sweet little girl in pink who was riding in her mom’s cart. She clutched it in her tiny hand, and when they reappeared to leave, she was still clutching it.
I got us coffee and a doughnut, but we were too busy for that. So many people said, “Thank you for your service.” One man tried to get his 4 year old son to say that, but maybe next year.
One woman served as a computer operator at an Air Force base during Vietnam. She said that there was no draft for women, but she just had to help.
Last night, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association sponsored a fine patriotic concert by the Atlantic Wind Ensemble in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove, NJ.
To give you an idea of what that was like, here is a portion of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”