Monday, May 29, 2006


Today, Hug a Soldier (It Doesn’t Mean You’re Gay)

“Bivouac of the Dead” by Theodore O’Hara
(Inscribed upon the McClellan Gate of Arlington National Cemetary)

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On fame's eternal camping ground Their silent tents to spread, And glory guards, with solemn round The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts Of loved ones left behind; No vision of the morrow's strife The warrior's dreams alarms; No braying horn or screaming fife At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust, Their plumed heads are bowed, Their haughty banner, trailed in dust, Is now their martial shroud.And plenteous funeral tears have washed The red stains from each brow, And the proud forms, by battle gashed Are free from anguish now.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade, The bugle's stirring blast, The charge, the dreadful cannonade, The din and shout, are past; Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal Shall thrill with fierce delight Those breasts that nevermore may feel The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce Northern hurricane That sweeps the great plateau, Flushed with triumph, yet to gain, Come down the serried foe, Who heard the thunder of the fray Break o'er the field beneath, Knew the watchword of the day Was "Victory or death!"

Long had the doubtful conflict raged O'er all that stricken plain, For never fiercer fight had waged The vengeful blood of Spain; And still the storm of battle blew, Still swelled the glory tide; Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew, Such odds his strength could bide.

Twas in that hour his stern command Called to a martyr's grave The flower of his beloved land, The nation's flag to save. By rivers of their father's gore His first-born laurels grew, And well he deemed the sons would pour Their lives for glory too.

For many a mother's breath has swept O'er Angostura's plain -- And long the pitying sky has wept Above its moldered slain. The raven's scream, or eagle's flight, Or shepherd's pensive lay, Alone awakes each sullen height That frowned o'er that dread fray.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground Ye must not slumber there, Where stranger steps and tongues resound Along the heedless air. Your own proud land's heroic soil Shall be your fitter grave; She claims from war his richest spoil -- The ashes of her brave.

Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest, Far from the gory field, Borne to a Spartan mother's breast On many a bloody shield; The sunshine of their native sky Smiles sadly on them here, And kindred eyes and hearts watch by The heroes sepulcher.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead! Dear as the blood ye gave; No impious footstep here shall tread The herbage of your grave; Nor shall your glory be forgot While Fame her record keeps, For honor points the hallowed spot Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone In deathless song shall tell, When many a vanquished ago has flown, The story how ye fell; Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight, Nor time's remorseless doom, Can dim one ray of glory's light That gilds your deathless tomb.


Blogger sumo said...

Very nice...well said.

May 29, 2006 4:23 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

I posted that same poem a few months ago when I found it at the Union Cemetary in Fredericksburg, Va.

Haunting is the only way I could describe it.

May 29, 2006 6:52 AM  
Anonymous abi said...

Nice job, Rex.

May 29, 2006 10:14 AM  
Blogger Callooh said...

In Canada there isn't a Memorial Day or a Vetrans Day - we have Remembrance Day on November 11th and have a 2 minute country wide moment of silence at 11o'clock. (the moment the treaty was signed ending WW2 - 11month, 11day, 11hour)

Every one wears poppies, to honour the vetrans and to remember that never again should we risk global conflict.

I miss the poppies.

Every year from elementary school assembles to the ceromony in Ottawa this poem is read. It was written by a Canadian doctor serving in France.

In Flanders Fields
By:Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
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.

May 29, 2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Newsguy said...

Good, Rex. I am wondering who wrote it. It has a Civil War cadence.

May 29, 2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

I knew Callooh would add to today's poetry theme. Poppies are still a part of Veterans' Day here in the US; most often, they're sold (for a donation) by veterans' groups such as the VFW and the American Legion.

As for the poem's origin (I'm going by memory here, but a Google search should bear it out) it was penned by a Kentuckian (Kentuckyite?) in honor of those from his state who fell in the war with Mexico. Thus, it would slightly pre-date the Civil War.

In any event, today remember those who heeded their country's call. As for those who continue to heed that call, say a prayer (or, failing that, some "positive mental energy.") Better yet, do something. For the adventurous among you, why not enlist in Kvatch's Kommandos (link below)for a day? You probably won't get shot.

May 29, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

I don't remember ever hearing this poem before, I do like it and I'm not into poetry. God Bless everyone that has ever lost their life while serving our country.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

May 29, 2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

beautiful poem. Flanders Field is one of my all time favorites...I think today is such an important day, but I don't know how to really appreciate it (having never been to war) anyway, Rex, I think you are silly as hell sometimes, but I respect patriots like you, especially on days like today....

May 29, 2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger GraemeAnfinson said...

good stuff. thanks for posting the poem

May 29, 2006 11:36 PM  

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