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
I remember memorizing In Flanders Fields when I was in Mrs. Schaeffer’s 3rd grade class. Although it was composed well before my time by Lt. Col. John McCrae in the spring of 1915 during the 2nd battle of Ypres in Belgium during World War I, it’s simple verse and haunting cadence make it one of the most memorable war poems ever written. I can still quote it today.
But, I’ve never been to war. I’ve worked with people who have. I’ve watched a number of films about war–The Patriot, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, Stop-Loss, Glory, The Hurt Locker, and more–in my attempt to understand better what soldiers endure, survive and come home from. But I’ve never seen war up close and personal. But a lot of people have. Some volunteered. Others were drafted. But all of them served.
I’ve been spared from the horrors of war because of the sacrifices of others. I’ve had the privilege of being in the company of vets and listened as they shared what they experienced in war. After watching Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino with one vet from Nam, he lean over and reverently share in his gravely voice, “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends. People who aren’t soldiers doing get this. That’s what soldiers do.” At that moment I felt like I’d been ushered into holy ground reserved only for soldiers.
The quote came from none other than Jesus. His words to His disciples in John 15:13 are never more true for a soldier than on the field of battle. I understand that better now.
I’ve also listened to what soldiers have brought back home with them from war . . . PTSD.
So as I approach this Memorial Day (the last Monday of May in the United States, but I’m sure there are similar days of remembering in countries all around the world), it’s not just the holiday that heralds the beginning of the summer vacationing season, but it’s become even more meaningful this year because of the time I’ve spent in the presence of some veterans who served with honor. But I would suggest that not only is it a day set aside to remember the sacrifices of those who died in the service of our country, but that it also be a day to remember and pray for those who did make it home and who are still sacrificing as they battle with the aftermath of the war in the form of physical wounds and the invisible wounds of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Maybe that’s where you or someone you love is today. Maybe Memorial Day provokes more stress than celebration because of the memories of war that get stirred up. Do you or a loved one need help wrestling with the stuff they brought home from war in that internal duffle that needs to be unpacked? Let us help you start on the path of healing. Check out The War Within: Finding Hope for Post-Traumatic Stress and out discussions and insights on PTSD from HelpForMyLife.org.