7:00am

Fri November 11, 2011
The Two-Way

We Pause On Veterans Day To Reread 'In Flanders Fields'

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 9:01 am

Before we move on to the day's news, serious and silly, we want to pause for a moment to note that it's Veterans Day.

As President Obama's declaration states, on this day Americans "pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families." And, the proclamation adds, "to honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country's call."

In May 1915, the U.S. Air Force reminds us, Canadian military doctor, Maj. John M. McCrae, composed the poem In Flanders Fields after treating victims of a German chemical attack in Belgium. It inspired the use of red poppies as a symbol of Veterans Day for many years in the U.S., and they're still used in Great Britain.

This seems like a good moment to recall McCrae's words:

"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."

On Morning Edition, host Steve Inskeep spoke with Veteran Affairs Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki about the problems many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are having finding work.

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