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.