Poem For a Today-A Soldier’s Cemetery, by John William Streets died at the Somme 1st July 1916
Behind that long and lonely trenched line
To which men come and go, where brave men die,
There is a yet unmarked and unknown shrine,
A broken plot, a soldier’s cemetery.
There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn’d
To live (so died) when languished Liberty:
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned
Still scream the shells of each artillery.
When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot
And fame upon it through the years descend:
But many a heart upon each simple cross
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.
Who among us REALLY comprehends the moment when one dies in service to this nation – is there a thought of a grander ideal for which the life is being cut short or the more universal and probably longing for loved ones, as well as thoughts of G-d? Asking this question seems important to me as so much is made of the heroics, the bigger picture of nation and flag in remembering our war dead – and in acknowledging the service of veterans still living. But in the end these are REAL men and women – and as of late, I am daunted by the “lip service” to honor those gone and those returning. Budget cuts detailed, designed and passed into law by the most vocal “My country tis of thee …” members of Congress that affect our veterans and their families.
The pathos and ethos of remembrance entails a consideration of the reality that faced those willing to serve … As we did with the GI Bill following WWII, we need again to make education, housing and unlimited health care available to our returning arm service people. Arguing about the justification of sending Americans into battle is for another time but here, today, as we mark Veterans Day we must commit to a totality of obligation to these men, women and their families – this is the only true and REAL way to be of one heart with those who fought for this nation. Sentiments and expresses of gratitude remain an important gesture – as kind thoughts do help heal – however, no words of thanks can nor should replace REAL concrete care giving and services for veterans.
As a Jewish American – with family, including my Uncle Milton Solomon (Ancestry link) who was a Bronze Star recipient and was fortunate to return from WWII to live a long and productive life before being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, having served – I more than most know all too well that my very life is based on those who fought against the Nazis. I never miss an opportunity to thank, shake the hand of and offer an embrace to a heroic WWII vet – being sure to tell them I and my family live only because they fought against those determined to eradicate my Jewish people from this earth. No hyperbole in believing this REAL fact. The personal for me is the general in that as a Jew, I – make that we as a people – know what fighting tyranny REALLY means. Likewise to feel personally indebted for my life and those of my Jewish children to the brave Americans, that included many Jews, who fought against the evil scourge of the Nazis is only a REAL and salient truth. I have the additional life blessing of having been married [my first/widowed May 2001] to my husband David, whose dear Father was a Colonel in the WWII Air Force. Knowing and loving Harold as I did – hearing his stories of valor and then visiting where he and family lived in England post war has brought to my life a even further REAL life awareness of what a veteran feels. My second and amazing husband, Chester Michael Eliasz-Solomon, a genealogist, has integrated this history into his and my family history, visiting both my Uncle and father-in-law in Arlington National Cemetery. Both he and I fully believe that our much wanted Jewish children would not have been possible if not for men like these.
So on Veterans Day wave a flag, thank a veteran, buy a service person a meal and tell Congress to take care of these men and women – do this as if your and your children life depends on it because it REALLY does. May G-d bless our service people, our fallen heroes, our veterans and their families and May G-d bless America!!!
P.S. I want to thank my Belfast dear friend, who I love dearly, Valerie Corbett for sharing with me the above soldier’s poem. In my memoir Life Journey of Heiress Mommy! I hope to explain how and why my very diverse and truly spectacular family made sure the REAL values of patriotism were a part of our life!