Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to
live taking form of readiness to die. –G.K. Chesterton
On Friday, November 11, 2011, the country will take a step back and honor the epitome of courage, the veterans. 11/11/11 will mark the 92nd observance of Veterans Day; President Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day by stating, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” On May 13, 1938, it was declared that November 11 in each year would be a legal holiday. However, on June 1, 1954, the holiday was renamed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day; Armistice Day was primarily dedicated to remembering and honoring the men and women of the first World War, but Veterans Day was declared a day to honor and remember the men and women of all wars.
I could go on with more of the history of the holiday; I could go into great detail about the various observance ceremonies around the country, but I really don’t believe facts and traditions truly capture the core of Veterans Day. The core of the holiday is found among the thousands of white crosses at Arlington National Cemetery; it’s found in a tight hug to a returning or leaving soldier; it’s seen in the choked back tears at the sound of the national anthem.
In honor of this national holiday, I have decided to share something that I recently received from a fellow writer in Florida. She ran across a poem composed in September 1944 by a soldier from Sibley; the author is unknown, but it is known that the poem was written shortly before the soldier was captured and taken to a German prison camp. I am told that the poem was published in Newspaper Clippings of Osceola County of World War II Veterans by Merrick Publishing.
My Only Plea
Still laugh, said I, when I'm away,
And gather all the flowers of May;
Still keep my room, the pictures all,
That I have loved upon the wall;
For I shall want them every one,
The moment that the war is won.
Still play the records, dance and sing;
And spread no fears of sorrowing,
Be happy every time you can,
For Victory, work and pray and plan;
For I shall want you looking well
When we have fired the final shell.
Still bake the pies as it might be
That I were coming home to tea;
Still plant the garden, roundabout,
Still grub the sturdy thistles out;
And stake the blue delphinium,
As if this war had never come.
For if this struggle shall be long,
At home there must be mirth, and song.
Since these are what we fight to keep,
So hide away when you must weep,
And be as brave at home, as we,
Who fight in sky, on land and sea.
Can anyone tell me more about the author of this poem? If so, please contact me at email@example.com or stop in at the Osceola County Gazette Tribune office.