By, Amber Granquist
(originally posted on her website www.writenotion.com)
May 30, 2022
Memorial Day is a special day we remember all the men and women who fought for our country’s freedom and gave the ultimate sacrifice of life so we can have the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to worship as we please. It is a solemn holiday, and yet I am so very thankful and grateful for this day.
When I was in grade school, I did a patriotic report, and it was while I was researching for this report that I discovered a book of poems about soldiers. It was the first time that I would read “The Unknown Soldier” by Billy Rose. I was familiar with the the term of the unknown soldier, as I had learned about it in history class, and also because it was a song my grandfather would sing and play on his old 78 record player. Both the song and the poem are incredibly moving and thought provoking.
Then, I turned the page and found several reply’s to the Unknown Soldier. I do not remember the words, but it was from those pages that, for the first time, I understood just how much they gave up, and how much the freedom I enjoy in my country, really costs.
It was in those pages of poems that I also realized that patriotism is not just for soldiers and their families. It is something that should grow in the heart of every citizen who truly cares for their country. Here in the United States of America, we have the opportunity to have a say in what our government says and does. I feel that this, too, is an important task.
For while the soldier leaves his home and country to fight and protect it, in hopes that by fighting far from home he will keep war from his homeland and his family, it is the American citizen who must vigilantly keep these rights that the soldier fights and dies for. In these turbulent days, we must find courage to raise our voices and take action, so that the fallen do not die in vain.
I firmly believe there are two battles brewing: that battle that the soldier fights so valiantly, but perhaps even more so is the battle of words. By combining these two battles we can, as it so eloquently states in Flanders Fields, throw the torch of freedom “to us the living, and be it ours to hold it high”.
There is a park near where we live that my children play in.
It has a baseball field, swings, slides, and a picnic area. But it also holds a memorial. It shows the faces of three soldiers with army helmets, and on the plaque below, it tells their story.
They were three brothers (Al, Don & Howard Lamoreaux) who all fought bravely during WW2. During the course of the war, all three died. One was married but I don’t know if he had children.
As my husband and I turned back to let our children run and play on the swings, my thoughts turned to the parents of these soldiers; parents that let their sons march away, knowing it might be forever. I could not imagine their sorrow as, one by one, they received the news that each of their sons had been killed in battle.
These young Lamoreaux boys gave up any dreams they might have had of seeing their own children play on swings and slides, because they chose to fight for a country that was safe and free for the children of tomorrow, my children.
My breath caught in my throat, and my eyes filled with unshed tears and I whispered, “Thank you, thank you so much”.
But on this special day we remember our fallen heroes, those who gave all for us, because ultimately each soldier, like those in Arlington and Flanders Field, saw years ahead and said, “I will die, if necessary, so they can live”. Soldiers I’ve never met, and so many that remain nameless. They saw all the horrors of war, and were willing to face death to stop the tyranny of the past so that I could enjoy the freedoms in my country today. With these thoughts, I find that I am humbled and so grateful because it was such a steep price to pay.
So to these men and women, and to the many thousand others, who have paid for our freedom with their blood and their lives, I stop and truly consider their sacrifice. The futures that never happened for them, so that I could have one. It’s my duty to remember, and to carry on.
“The Unknown Soldier” as sung by Vernon Dalhart
There is a spot so sacred, covered over with flowers and wreaths. Beneath a stone, there sleeps alone a boy who no more breathes. He gave his life for freedom amid the battle's strife, But flowers and praise can never raise this soldier back to life. Somebody's boy is sleeping in the Unknown Soldier's grave. Some mother's boy, her pride and joy, marched away both strong and brave. There in the raging battle, his life he could not save, And now far away he sleeps today in the Unknown Soldier's grave. Oh, mother dear, so tender, do not shed a single tear. Our nation's love and gratitude are his each day and year. There is no death in Heaven, no thought of tears and pain. No storm and strife can come in life where the Great Commander reigns. Somebody's boy is sleeping in the Unknown Soldier's grave, Some mother's son whose work is done, sleeping where old glory waves. Maybe he's yours, and maybe mine. He'd want us to be brave. He earned his rest and sleeps with the blest in the Unknown Soldier's grave.