Editorial note: Today America observes Memorial Day, in honor of its own who have fallen in war. We ask that regardless of your politics, you be respectful in any comments left here. The following poem is one of many that are popular among Americans on this day. It honors specifically those who fell in Belgium and Northern France, but for many is considered symbolic of all those who were lost. For those of you who served and are here to read this, we are glad you are here. And for those who lost loved ones, we grieve for you. And we don’t need to tell this audience, but we need to remind others, who those buried under those headstones are: overwhelmingly, they were men. –DE
In distant field of sunny France
Where strangers come and go,
Amid the farms of Flanders, where
The fragrant breezes blow,
Our solder-dead in quiet sleep
‘Neath crosses row on row.
Here shrapnel shells once shrieked and burst
And took their toll of death;
The very wind, itself a foe,
Bore poison on its breath.
Above their graves the birds now sing
As round that home of yore,
When, carefree boys, they romped and played;
Those childhood days soon o’er,
The boys to brave and strong men grown,
They romped and played no more.
They put aside their childish toys,
A man’s work each must do,
And when their country called for them,
To her they answered true.
“We must protect our native land:
She shall not suffer wrong
For she has reared and nurtured us,
We’re men and we are strong.
We’ll bid good-bye to those we love;
It will not be for long.”
With aching hearts and tear-dimmed eyes
We watched them go away.
Some have returned but many sleep
In foreign lands today.
Where English roses bloom and fade,
In France where lilies grow,
Among the fields of Flanders, where
The scarlet poppies blow,
Our soldier-dead are not forgot
Though strangers come and go.
—- Eula Gladys Lincoln