MAY, A Month for Memories

MayMay is a month for memories,  for remembering. It is the month we, here in the United States, remember mothers for their magnificent role in all our lives. Mostly good, some with sadder memories, still the women who are our mothers and grandmothers impacted our lives in ways we will never even fully know. So, we choose, a weekend, a particular Sunday, to remember particularly those to whom we owe so much.

We remember others, as well in the month of May. One weekend, in particular, has become synonymous with the month, with the ushering in of summer time, a time for picnics and family outings. Memorial Day weekend has become a time-honored tradition. Thankfully, many communities still honor the weekend with a parade, a quiet and solemn ceremony at a local cemetery; and events not marked so much by frivolity and fun; but, reflection and reverence. It is a time we remember the sacrifices of all the men and women who have given their lives in the guarding of our freedom in wars all across the globe. First begun immediately following the end of World War I, known then as, The Great War or the War to End All Wars, a new organization, the American Legion set out to honor the fallen soldiers from that war.

What became an enduring symbol of that war, is the poppy fields that cover the French hillsides. A poem made famous from that time and often read on Memorial Day in ceremonies across the country is called In Flanders Fields. I present its short verse to you here:

In Flanders Fields                 by John McCrae, 1872 – 1918

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

Flanders Fields

Today, a small, paper poppy is worn by many to remind the rest of us that this weekend of Memorial Day, we have many people for whom to be grateful.  From the 40 million men and women injured or killed in that Great War, about fifty percent died. The photo of fields from the movie, Atonement by Alex Bailey gives a short glimpse back to those fields.

Since that war, another 1.5 million Americans have been wounded in war and of those at least a quarter were killed.  So, it is appropriate that we remember their sacrifices for us, for our way of life, for the freedoms we have to enjoy those picnics and parades. This Memorial Day, remember those who gave you the America you have today, with all its sores and stubbed toes; she is still our America where we have the freedoms so preciously bought for us by those long gone and by those yet born who will walk their own walk, in Flanders Fields.

On a weekend before Memorial Day; Americans have chosen to honor yet another group of heroes. Men and women who, every day in America walk the thin blue line to keep our homes, neighborhoods and communities safe. Our law enforcement gathers with family and friends each year in May at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial where those killed in the line of duty over the past year are immortalized with their name etched in the marble walls that, sadly, grow longer and fuller with each new year. This year, over three-hundred names will be added to the wall from the U.S. and her territories.  The war against police must stop but, until it does, those of us honored to be watched over by the men and women of the thin blue line should take this time in May to remember those who have given the last full measure of devotion to their brothers and sisters in blue, their communities and their nation. We should especially remember the families of those officers who have been murdered and re-commit ourselves to seeing that not only is justice done; but, those families never want for any single necessity because of the sacrifices made.

LEOMF

Yes, May, a month of memories. Let us never forget to remember.

 

Written by Dr. Ross l. Riggs, Chief of Police Retired, Member American Legion Post 44 Canton, Ohio

 

 

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