Veterans Day Celebrations

I always get very busy around Memorial Day and Veterans Day because of my veteran status and my long involvement in working with the military. But this year’s Veterans Day celebrations were exceptional. I had a television appearance (as mentioned here earlier, you can watch it at https://www.wmar2news.com/voiceforveterans/army-veteran-former-nsa-spy-writes-to-cope-with-trauma-from-vietnam-war), a parade, two offerings of my presentation on the fall of Saigon, an American Legion celebratory gathering, and a “poppy event,” where I passed out red artificial poppies and accepted contributions to help beleaguered veterans. It’s all over now, but it’s been quite a week and a half.

For me, the poppies represent the essence of our celebration of veterans. They recall the poem, “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae. It was written about World War I, but it captures my feelings about all the men I fought beside who died in battle, especially in Vietnam. I’ve quoted it before in this blog, but it’s well worth another read. Here it is:

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.

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