We are the Dead

11 Nov

In the hallways of my children’s school, there are small trays set out with paper poppies.  We have all put our pence in the kettle and pinned bright red paper flowers on our jackets and jumpers, in memory of the tragic and honorable dead of World War I.  The poem written by John McCrae in 1915 which sealed in the minds of generations the image of massed buried soldiers and bright fierce poppies never fails to swell my heart and wet my eyes:

In Flanders Fields

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.

For me, this remembrance is not about patriotism, or pacifism, or politics.  It is a reminder that we are the tongues of the dead.  If they died for justice, if they died foolishly, or bravely, or in fear, only the living can remember them.  I must live with purpose, with intention, before I too am no more than a poppy in a field.

“At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”  I’ll spend a moment in silence, to breathe for the dead, for their memory, for their life.   Semper fi.


3 Responses to “We are the Dead”

  1. greatscott3 November 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Lovely post. War is an ugly business and I am not a fan–but i am so grateful for the unbelievable bravery and hopes for peace and selfless sacrifice of so many soldiers. It’s such a complicated feeling but you put it perfectly–we must think not of the politics but of the people. Remember them their commitment to freedom, be oh so grateful for their service and live our life with purpose to honor the one they sacrificed.


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