Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 Memorial Day Remembrances and the Poem "In Flanders Fields"

My Memorial Day post from last year has had several hundred visitors and is my most popular. In case you missed it, here's a repost of the text:

On this Memorial Day please join me in remembering those who died serving our country.

I am remembering two friends of my youth who lost their lives in Vietnam.

James Donnelly, a classmate at Most Holy Name of Jesus School in North St. Louis, took me to the eighth-grade dance on the S.S. Admiral, and bought me my first corsage (pink and white carnations). The eighth-grade dance in 1962 was my first "official" date where a boy asked me to go out. Six years later James lost his life while serving as an Army soldier in Vietnam.

Mike Blassie was my escort to the St. Alphonsus (Rock) High School senior prom. Rock High was an all-girls' school, so we invited the boys--and Mike graciously accepted my invitation. That night he talked about how excited he was to be going to the Air Force Academy after graduation. First Lieutenant Michael Blassie's remains rested, for a time, in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery before being returned to St. Louis in July, 1998.

Please take time today to remember James and Michael, along with all the fallen who gave their "last full measure of devotion" while serving our country.

If you've ever wondered the connection between the red poppies you see on sale around Memorial Day, read "In Flanders Field," the poem by Canadian Army Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The link to the Arlington National Cemetery also has an explanation about the writing of "In Flanders Field."

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


  1. What a grand poem. As a poet I appreciate it, as a US veteran,(Yes),it touches me deep inside.
    Marcel Toussaint

  2. Yes, this is good all over again, Donna!

  3. What a wonderful, moving post, Donna. Your two friends remind us of all the young people who give their youth (if they're lucky), or their limbs or their lives for their countries...

  4. My Grandma told me always to buy a poppy because it helps provide support for our veterans. Every year I carry one around in my car until it fades to pink. Love the poem!

    Critter Alley

  5. Hi Marcel,
    Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Hi Claudia,
    Thanks. I'm glad you liked it the second time.

    Hi Sioux,
    Thanks. Theirs was an immeasurable sacrifice.

    Hi Pat,
    I've got mine attached to my purse. Glad you liked the poem.


  6. I also revisited Flanders Field on my blog. I was at our meeting when Jerrel Swingle read his wonderful essay incorporating the poem. It certainly stuck with me.

    1. Talk about a strange coincidence. I haven't seen Jerry in almost a year then ran into him at lunch today.

  7. Hi Jennifer,
    It is a moving poem, and Jerrel did a stirring job reading it.

  8. Everyday we should remember those who gave body, mind and soul for us. My dad used to call it Decoration Day, and every May we would travel to decorate his family's gravesite in the country. Thanks for posting the poem.


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