I walked beside your stone today and tarried there to ponder.
Who were you when once you lived upon this earth? I wonder…
A faded flag, a marker carved tells me you stood with honor
and to that end your life was lost for ground you now lie under.
Were there flowers left for you upon your grave so cold
or were you placed beneath the sod alone and far from home?
Did your Mother kiss your face before she said goodbye
or was it comrades, bleeding too, who placed you where you lie?
Did you leave behind a son whose future you fought for?
Does his soul now walk with yours from yet another war?
Were you tall? Did you laugh? Were your dreams for glory?
A chiseled stone beneath a tree cannot convey your story.
There’re more of you – so many more – some there, some here beside you.
Different times, different wars, but kin for ends you died to.
Some lie fast on hallowed ground in perfect, ordered rows,
yet others rest in places that no one will ever know.
Beneath the earth, beneath the sea – in memory and in prayer.
Do you now soar high and free as only eagles dare?
I did not know you — nor you, I. You lived another time,
yet reach to me through spirit thought. I reach to you in kind.
Upon the breeze I hear your voice. It bids me to remember
that life, though gone, has purpose still – like roses in December.
You beg me not forget the cost and whisper in my ear
to not forget the sacrifice and tenets we hold dear.
I hear you talk of freedom and of honor and of purpose
and of dying for a cause and a country that you worship.
Your words are wrought with anger, your message more a plea
to understand the lessons past… that freedom’s never free.
To stand with pride – to band as one – to fight the threats before us.
To march ahead through unknown hells — a battle cry, the chorus.
To live for something greater than a moment or a day
and know that to defend it, you might give your life away.
And as your voice fades on the breeze, I hear your last request,
“Remember me and freedom bought with life — lest you forget.”
I stand alone beside your grave, but feel you all around me.
Your mortal self may long be gone, but echoes still surround me.
“Tell our stories. Keep us close. Teach your children proudly
about the reasons that we died in service to our country.”
“Tell them that to stand for peace our voices must arise
and, to that end, there may be war and sometimes men will die.”
“Tell them that we paid the price for freedom to remain,
then we can rest in blessed peace – our death was not in vain.”
And so I shall for that is how I will remember thee
and thank you for the sacrifice your service means to me.
I do not know just how you died or even how you lived.
It matters that I honor you for everything you did.
Upon my word I promise that I’ll look beyond the sorrow
and take your story forward on the wings of each tomorrow.
Rest, dear soul, you’ve fought the fight and paid it all for peace
in hope that for the future child the threat of war would cease.
The battle now belongs to us – the need so far and wide.
“Remember that we lived and breathed, not only that we died.”
Your blood of truth runs through my heart demanding that I see.
“Take up my cause – stand fast – be strong. Come and follow me!”
But in this moment I will pause and bow my head to pray
and place a poppy on your grave on this Memorial Day.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. Psalm 27: 3 – 4