What's the connection here, you'll say? Well, of course there are many poems that memorialize fallen comrades from many wars. Many know the poem "In Flanders Field", but not many are familiar with Herman Melville's brief but anguished piece honoring the dead from one battle in our own tragic and bloody Civil War. Read Melville's "Shiloh: A Requiem" here.
Don't get me wrong, I like Memorial Day, but why don't we also have a day in which we remember and honor those others who have "given the ultimate sacrifice for our country" like police officers, for example? According to the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), which released its preliminary 2009 statistics last week, 125 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2009, which might not be even half the number who died in Afghanistan in 2009 (315), but is quite a surprising number all the same. And that 125 does not include those others who also work on the "front lines" of public defense, like fire fighters and paramedics. Visit the NLEOMF site.
Wreaths, fireworks, and parades are nice but...wouldn't it be nice to have all the annual "patriotic" hoopla translated into money for scholarships for the children of all fallen soldiers and peace officers? I'd like to see more done for the soldiers who do return, as well, but perhaps that is asking too much.
But back to poetry--this is the cover of a new book of poems by my mother, Diane Shea--and edited by Yours Truly. Published on Lulu.com (it's available as a download or a book there) you can see excerpts from it, read the covers, and even buy a copy on Amazon; it's called Love in Leisure, Repent in Haste.
Enjoy your Memorial Day, in whatever pursuits you endeavor to pursue, and whatever and whomever you choose to remember and honor.