Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

An American Cemetery in France

Today, Thursday November 11, 2010, is Veteran's Day, a national holiday to commemorate all past and present war Veterans and the sacrifices they made for this country. The actual date marks the end of hostilities in the First World War (1914-1918) which was at the time called "the war to end all wars". Of course this common desire to bring an end to all wars has not yet borne fruit.

A lot of great poetry was inspired by that brutal conflict and many of the authors of that poetry did not survive the war. Alan Seeger was an American living in Paris when World War One began. He joined the French Foreign Legion and was subsequently killed in battle. A monument in Paris is dedicated to those Americans who volunteered to fight for France in the years before the U.S. entered the war. Some of Seeger's words are inscribed on the monument:

They did not pursue worldly rewards; they wanted nothing more than to live without regret, brothers pledged to the honor implicit in living one's own life and dying one's own death. Hail, brothers! Goodbye to you, the exalted dead! To you, we owe two debts of gratitude forever: the glory of having died for France, and the homage due to you in our memories.

This poignant poem, published posthumously, is his most famous work:

Rendezvous With Death

Alan Seeger (June 22, 1888 - July 4, 1916)

I HAVE a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade

And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
and lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines!

Today, November 10, 2010, is the 235th anniversary of the birth of the United States Marine Corps. The Corps was created in 1775 to serve as naval infantry during the American War for Independence. The Marines are America's shock troops. They have served in all of our nations wars, both declared and undeclared and in many "police actions" all over the globe.

There is a old saying in the U.S. Marine Corps that basically says that there is no such thing as a former Marine: "once a Marine, always a Marine." Those words, along with the Marine Corp motto, "Semper Fidelis- Always Faithful" are truly words to live by.