Memorial Day 2023

I have posted this many times, because it contains the words often used as a toast at formal mess nights, which I have bolded.

A toast…

For the Fallen​

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that 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 will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
The names of two friends are engraved on the wall. It has been over fifty years, but I can still see their young faces.
It took my husband decades to visit the Vietnam Wall. He knew how many names he would see and was worried he just couldn’t bear it. One day, it was just time and we went, very early one morning, and I was finally ready to go see the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial (I was there that day.). We spent some time just sitting and reflecting. It was good.
The title of this poem is "In Memorium" by Ewart Alan Mackintosh.
Lieutenant Mackintosh was killed in action on the second day of the battle of Cambrai, 21st November 1917, & is buried in Orival Wood Cemetery near Flesquières in northern France. He was 24.

In Memoriam

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
— O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers'
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
they saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, "Don't leave me Sir,"
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.
I never know how to feel, or what to say, or how to act, on Memorial Day. Sort of like attending a funeral visitation. I have great, happy memories. I can laugh and smile at the memories. But always through tears. I also get grumpy, today, seeing so many in our society seemingly ungrateful. I understand it’s ignorance….they don’t know….but many have lost loved ones, so that they may have their freedoms.

I’m conflicted about where my boys stand in this day. I’m thankful for their service. But they haven’t given their life. But the signed up to do so. One ensign is in the fleet. One is a Mid. One is Air National Guard. All are active duty, but on does so in school. One does so when on orders. One does so 24/7. Two have lost AD Midshipmen classmates. None have lost mates to war. It’s internally confusing to me. But the over-arching feeling, is one of gratitude. I’m so proud of my boys for say yes to the calling.

I’m so thankful for our Military, and their families. I’m thankful for our SAF Military members.

I’m sure this day is hard for many. It’s not a joyous day for me. It’s a somber one.
I was honored to be the guest speaker this year at two Memorial Day events and while
the occasion itself is not easy for me to discuss, I was able to hold it together and properly honor
the fallen.
Percy Bysshe Shelly — Music when Soft Voices Die

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.