Monday, May 26, 2008


My husband and I have felt it important to establish family traditions for Memorial Day, as we have for the more major holidays. For us that means taking just 5 minutes to walk to the local cemetery, where there will be a military speaker, a gun salute, and a bugler who plays taps. Today the guest chaplain spoke with wisdom and brevity. I loved the words of the hymn he quoted, and wish I could have written them down~~it was not something I had heard before. We walked home in silence, contemplating the words and with the haunting melody of "taps" lingering in our hearts.

Another small element of tradition that we return to every year is the reading of the poem "In Flanders Fields." I remember buying those little plastic poppies from the veterans when I was a kid, but never really understood their significance until I was an adult and learned this poem. It's meaningful to follow up the reading with three other poems that were written as a reply to "In Flanders Fields":

*America's Answer
*Reply to In Flanders Fields
*Another Reply to In Flanders Fields

The last one, by J.A. Armstrong also mentions poppies: eagles, fly
The fierce destroyers of the sky;
With stains the earth wherein you lie
Is redder than the poppy bloom,
In Flanders Fields.

We put on the patriotic music as we readied the house for the 30+ guests with whom we enjoyed a barbecue and the first day of swimming. My old, faithful Great American Favorites CD never fails to touch me and set me to whistling. I think the "Fanfare for the Common Man" would have to be my #1 favorite on that album, with the variations on "America" running a close second.

Do you play patriotic music in your home?

I took a walk alone this evening to unwind after all the busyness of the day, and I was thinking to myself how sad it is that all of the lovely lilacs that have greeted me the past week are spent. But then I turned the corner, and spied the most vivid red poppies waving at me. What an appropriate moment to see them. What an appropriate day for them to be showing forth their glory.

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