It’s Memorial Day weekend and amidst the traveling and eating wonderful picnic foods, we pause to remember. To give thanks, to grieve, to reflect, and to promise to be worth fighting for; worth dying for.
Britain had declared war on Germany after the invasion of Belgium in 1914. John McCrae, a Canadian poet, physician, author, and artist, enlisted at the age of 41, and was appointed a Medical Officer, serving in battlefield hospitals in the Second Battle of Ypres, during World War I.
This poem “In Flanders Field” was a tribute to his friend who died during the war. McCrae died of pneumonia near the end of the war. The poem honors the dead. It mourns the dead.
John McCrae asks us – each one of us – to take up the torch and hold it high. We get to choose whether or not to break the faith. We live in a time when complaining is easy, where we think hateful words that result in hateful acts. But because soldiers over time have laid down their lives, we have an opportunity to do better. We can recommit to the fight for freedom. We can recommit to the obligation of duty. We can be both proud of what’s been built and know that it isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. But that work is ours – together. We can choose to bring our best selves to places where we quarrel. We can make peace.