In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row...
The stones stand in silent witness.
"Dress Right, Dress!"
"All present and accounted for, Sir."
Soldiers in eternal formation, far from home, awaiting orders from the Commander.
They came here from factories and fields, from small town, large city, and every place in between. But they came.
The rich came in spite of their riches, the poor because of their poverty.
Some eagerly volunteered. Others were drafted. A few enlisted to avoid nasty consequences involving the law. But, by whatever means and circumstances, they came.
They learned the trade of soldier, of sailor, of airman, and marine. Those who came seeking adventure learned of boredom; those who sought action, the frustration of "Hurry up and wait". Those who sought glory, the horror of battle.
There were gung-ho and gold bricks, good soldiers and goof-offs, leaders and followers alike. As in life, there were those who made things happen, those watched things happen and those who stood around asking "What happened?" And there were always ten percent who never got the word.
Whether or not they ever knew one another, they are now brothers, forever bound together by circumstances and events not of their own making.
In far off places, in Arlington, Virginia, in military cemeteries, in church yards across the nation and in sites forgotten by all except God, their stones stand in silent witness.
To them, we owe a debt of gratitude.
To them, we owe our lives and the life of this nation.
To them, we owe our present days and our children's future years.
Of the entire year, this weekend is set aside to remember and honor those to whom the stones stand in silent witness.
How can we remember, how honor, how repay their sacrifice?
How can we try?
How will you this weekend?
(Originally Published in May 2013)