Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  In some ways it's the same as Remembrance Day in England, but it in the USA it is a public holiday.

Remembrance Day in the UK is always on a Sunday - the closest one to the date of 11/11.  The armistice of the first world war was enacted at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  Prior to the event volunteers are out in force selling cloth poppies.  This is to remember the poppies of the fields of Flanders where most of the worst battles of WWI were fought.  Perhaps WWI is of greater importance in England as an entire generation of men were affected by the war.
I believe the military are given more respect here than in Europe.  Most TV programs here over the Memorial weekend include tributes to the forces in their advert breaks.  American Airlines board any uniformed military ahead of everyone else, and many a soldier has found himself given a first class seat on a plane when the booked occupant has requested a downgrade.  Anyone who has heard the round of applause following a uniformed marine or other branch of the military as they make their way across an airport cannot fail to be moved.
At the end of WWI there was a short poem written that has always been said since on such occasions.  Perhaps among all the hot dog barbecues and celebrations today it is worthwhile repeating:
They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We shall remember them, we shall remember them.
I wrote this poem out last November for Rembrance Day, but I think it's worth repeating.

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