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Monday, May 26, 2014

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor: Memorial Day 2014

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Today is a day for remembering our honored dead, and our honored living. Today is Memorial Day.

This day was first set aside after the Civil War, in memoriam for the soldiers of both sides who fell in that dreadful war of brothers.

Since that time, the United States has been involved in numerous conflicts: The Spanish-American War. World War I. World War II. The Korean War. The Vietnam War. The First Gulf War. The Second Gulf War. Bosnia. Iraq. Afghanistan. Pakistan. Somalia. And more. With each successive conflict, the fallen have been remembered on this day. 

And, like Veterans' Day later in the year, on Memorial Day we also remember and honor those who returned. 

There was a gentleman named Francis Scott Key. He was a poet. He is best remembered for penning the words that later became our National Anthem. But he wrote much more. I use his words to honor those veterans who came home alive, though not necessarily whole; and for those who have yet to come home.



When The Warrior Returns
- Francis Scott Key
When the warrior returns, from the battle afar,
To the home and the country he nobly defended,
O! Warm be the welcome to gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended:
In the full tide of song let his fame roll along,
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng,
Where, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Columbians! A band of your brothers behold,
Who claim the reward of your hearts' warm emotion,
When your cause, when your honor, urged onward the bold,
In vain frowned the desert, in vain raged the ocean:
To a far distant shore, to the battle's wild roar,
They rushed, your fair fame and your rights to secure:
Then, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
In the conflict resistless, each toil they endured,
'Till their foes fled dismayed from the war's desolation:
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the Star Spangled flag of our nation.
Where each radiant star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turbaned heads bowed to its terrible glare,
Now, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Our fathers, who stand on the summit of fame,
Shall exultingly hear of their sons the proud story:
How their young bosoms glow'd with the patriot flame,
How they fought, how they fell, in the blaze of their glory.
How triumphant they rode o'er the wondering flood,
And stained the blue waters with infidel blood;
How, mixed with the olive, the laurel did wave,
And formed a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Then welcome the warrior returned from afar,
To the home and the country he nobly defended:
Let the thanks due to valor now gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended.
In the full tide of song let his fame roll along,
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng,
Where, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
And for those who went to a far better Home, we remember, and we honor. And we hear them speak, thus:

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
- Mary Frye (1932)
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.


On this day that, to most, marks the beginning of summer, on this day of cookouts and gatherings and baseball games and celebrations, let us not be so caught up in the celebrations that we forget those who enabled us to celebrate.

"And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." ~Isaiah 2:4, ASV

Amen. This can't come soon enough to suit me.

If you are a soldier, a veteran, or the family member of one who gave his or her all for this nation, for our liberties, I salute you. Stand tall this day. You have my eternal gratitude.

God bless you all.

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com


5 comments:

Sara Stamey said...

Thanks, Stephanie, for this tribute. Yesterday I went with my 91-year-old father, veteran of WWII and Korean Wars, to our local memorial celebration of a thousand flags. He loves to wear his uniform, and still looks terrific in it!

teena3940 said...

Beautiful. Thank You for writing it..

Stephanie Osborn said...

Sara, thank your father for me, if you would.

Teena, thank you; of course I didn't write the poems, but I very carefully chose them for the occasion. They seemed apropos to the concepts I wanted to express.

Marsha Thalleen said...

Thank you for your thoughts and sentiments, Stephanie. My son currently serves. I shared your thoughts. <3

Jk Accinni said...

Thanks for printing these moving words. It's nice to see the country come together over their respect for vets. I know the holiday is especially difficult for the families of vets that didn't make it home in one piece.

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