We are a family of holiday births. We have one person born on American Memorial Day, one on 9/11, one on Purim, one on Flag Day, and one on Lag B'Omer.
That said, this is one of the few secular holidays that I do make an effort to observe. Canadians wear red poppies in memory of the war fallen. Munchkin is old enough now to wear a poppy as well.
The homeschooling group was on about "white poppies." It's nice to know that the "peace movement" hasn't been shamed by its defense of Communist atrocities, or appeasement pre-WWII.
With that in mind, I present some of my favorite war poetry:
A Song of Defeat
THE line breaks and the guns go under,
The lords and the lackeys ride the plain;
I draw deep breaths of the dawn and thunder,
And the whole of my heart grows young again.
For our chiefs said 'Done,' and I did not deem it;
Our seers said 'Peace,' and it was not peace;
Earth will grow worse till men redeem it,
And wars more evil, ere all wars cease.
But the old flags reel and the old drums rattle,
As once in my life they throbbed and reeled;
I have found my youth in the lost battle,
I have found my heart on the battlefield.
For we that fight till the world is free,
We are not easy in victory:
We have known each other too long, my brother,
And fought each other, the world and we.
And I dream of the days when work was scrappy,
And rare in our pockets the mark of the mint,
When we were angry and poor and happy,
And proud of seeing our names in print.
For so they conquered and so we scattered,
When the Devil road and his dogs smelt gold,
And the peace of a harmless folk was shattered;
When I was twenty and odd years old.
When the mongrel men that the market classes
Had slimy hands upon England's rod,
And sword in hand upon Afric's passes
Her last Republic cried to God.
For the men no lords can buy or sell,
They sit not easy when all goes well,
They have said to each other what naught can smother,
They have seen each other, our souls and hell.
It is all as of old, the empty clangour,
The Nothing scrawled on a five-foot page,
The huckster who, mocking holy anger,
Painfully paints his face with rage.
And the faith of the poor is faint and partial,
And the pride of the rich is all for sale,
And the chosen heralds of England's Marshal
Are the sandwich-men of the Daily Mail,
And the niggards that dare not give are glutted,
And the feeble that dare not fail are strong,
So while the City of Toil is gutted,
I sit in the saddle and sing my song.
For we that fight till the world is free,
We have no comfort in victory;
We have read each other as Cain his brother,
We know each other, these slaves and we.
G. K. Chesterton
Author: Rudyard Kipling [More Titles by Kipling]
These were our children who died for our lands: they
were dear in our sight.
We have only the memory left of their home-treasured
sayings and laughter.
The price of our loss shall be paid to our hands, not
Neither the Alien nor Priest shall decide on it. That is our right.
_But who shall return us the children_?
At the hour the Barbarian chose to disclose his pretences,
And raged against Man, they engaged, on the breasts
that they bared for us,
The first felon-stroke of the sword he had long-time
prepared for us--
Their bodies were all our defence while we wrought our defences.
They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the Judgment
They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning.
Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning
Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour.
Not since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her.
Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marvelling, closed
That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given
To corruption unveiled and assailed by the malice of Heaven--
By the heart-shaking jests of Decay where it lolled on the wires--
To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes--to be cindered by fires--
To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation
From crater to crater. For this we shall take expiation.
_But who shall return us our children_?
Kipling is on my mind today because I was reading the Just So Stories to Munchkin and Genome. Genome was clearly bored by the whole exercise, but Munchkin seemed rather enchanted at parts.