‘Take a moment’ to remember the sacrifices
The drums faint roll,
The solemn step,
A flag draped vessel moves slowly under guard.
16 soldiers not a thread out of place.
The crisp morning air guides our journey.
Speeches of honor and bravery are made.
Salted wetness appears as vision blurs.
Faces flush a bright crimson.
7 grip tightly their rifles so clean,
A quarter turn right they shoulder and aim.
Three times they fire our hearts make a leap,
Everyone jumps at the ring of each shot.
Precise is each movement with a snap they all take.
Sorrowful silence but the buglers call.
Old Glory neatly folded is presented to the mourn,
A salute slowly lowered,
Our brother has gone.
From a thankful nation, on our leader’s behalf,
Your loved ones a hero claims the highest command.
This day will fade, as every day does,
But memories grow by month and year.
16 soldiers return for the finals of May.
They pay respect to the fallen who served a country with pride,
True patriots interred a remembrance they’ve died.
I wrote this poem while sitting in silence awaiting the start of Memorial Day services in 2017. I was inspired by the days prior planting flags upon the deceased veterans’ graves at area cemeteries.
It brought to my mind what a solemn and reverent day this is.
Memorial Day, a chance for all of America to salute once again and remember the sacrifice given by each veteran beneath the soil.
The trials of war, the unselfish service, those that came home to live out their days with the nightmares of their campaign, or those that never returned from the field of battle.
We also honor those at rest who didn’t see the smoke of combat but served freely of themselves vowing to shoulder arms if ordered. To wear the uniform of their country was a rich and powerful time in their lives. They sacrificed time with loved ones.
They missed birthdays and holidays or just hours spent with friends and relatives. And from the silence of their garden of rest, we acknowledge their commitment for however long they bore that burden. It is commonly said “That freedom is not free, and that someone must have paid some price.” On this day at the end of May we discover who has made such a payment.
On this day, Memorial Day, before your Gala events and cheerful parades take a moment to silently remember and thank all those veterans who sleep forever more in such hallowed ground.
Kirk L. Miller, a Fredonia resident, is first Vice Commander of the Chautauqua County American Legion, 8th District Department of New York.