Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. I hung the American flag from my porch first thing this morning; tonight I will light a candle for peace, as my dad taught me.

I will remember dad, a Vietnam vet who died almost four years ago; I will share him with his granddaughters; and I will write. That’s how I will recognize Memorial Day today. Nothing fancy, just a few simple acts of remembrance from the safety of my home, my community and my country. That’s what it’s all about.

We are not visiting a cemetery today, but my brother and his family did. They live just a few miles from the family plot in Upper Michigan where many of my relatives are buried, including my dad. Here is his grave plaque from the VA, surrounded by the loveliest purple flowers. What a comfort those flowers are.

dads plaque

This picture brings to mind two poems. One is Flanders Field, written by solider John McCrae in World War I. He writes of flowers, specifically poppies, growing among the graves of fallen soldiers.

The second poem is one I wrote about a few weeks ago, Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay. She sums up how I feel better than I ever could…

Dirge Without Music
by Edna St Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts
in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of
mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,— but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter,
the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and
curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses
in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

 

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