Thursday, November 12, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Saluting Our Veterans

Thank you to Bridget at wee words for wee ones for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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On our way to school Wednesday morning, my boys and I had a great discussion about Veterans Day and the true meaning behind the holiday. When I was growing up, we always had Veterans Day off of school. I remember talking about this at school each year, and recall the teachers emphasizing that Veterans Day is a special day to honor those who fought for our freedoms. It is sad to me that this is no longer a school holiday (at least where I live), but I am somewhat mollified each year when my boys come home and share how they observed the holiday at school.

In honor of Veterans Day, I am sharing a poem by American poet Joyce Kilmer, “Prayer of a Soldier in France.” This poem is especially poignant because Kilmer was killed in France during WWII at age 31. (For more posts about Joyce Kilmer, click here and here.)

Prayer of a Soldier in France
by Joyce Kilmer

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

I hope your Veterans Day week was reflective and meaningful. Enjoy your weekend, and Happy Writing!

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Interesting Veterans Day fact: The correct spelling of this holiday is “Veterans Day” with no apostrophe. Since I am nit-picky about apostrophe usage, I looked this up. Here is the explanation from the website of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs:

Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans. 

22 comments:

  1. A touching tribute. We call the day Rememberance Day in Australia, because we pause to Remember, but, whatever it is called, it is special that it is celebrated in so many countries as a bond to ensure that we do rememeber and continue to strive for a peaceful world.

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    1. I am so glad that there is some sort of Remembrance Day in so many different countries, Sally. I love hearing about Australia!

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  2. Wow, interesting about the apostrophe! Makes sense. I got sidetracked from this touching post by going back to your Earth Day post with a Kilmer poem. Beautiful poem. Thanks for reminding me about Joyce Kilmer! What a shame he died so young.

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    1. I know, Tabatha. So sad. He is one of my favorites. I always wonder what else he would have written had he lived longer.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this powerful poem and the sad fate of its author. As a grammar geek, I also enjoyed the explanation of the missing apostrophe.

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  4. Oh wow, that's a powerful poem. And knowing he died in service makes it even more so. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Such a heart wrenching poignant poem, and so powerful! When I was little and read Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" poem, I thought he was female. Thanks for sharing this poem in honor of all our veterans. Surprised to hear it's not a school holiday where you live.

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    1. For years, I thought Kilmer was female, too. I have *always* loved "Trees" as well!

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  6. Compelling poem, Becky! Here in Tucson we got Veterans Day off school, which I am thankful for. Interesting tidbit about the use of the apostrophe - I like the reasoning for leaving it off: "it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans." =)

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    1. I loved that explanation too, Bridget. Thanks again for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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  7. Dear Becky,
    Thanks for sharing this poem and your sentiments about celebrating Veterans Day.

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  8. I didn't know either that Kilmer died so young. This is lovely, & I miss (this year) being at school to celebrate & honor our Veterans. I'm been clicking on your other links & loved your Earth Day post, too, Becky. Thanks!

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  9. Becky,
    I looked up the spelling for Veterans Day this year too when I did a blog post for that day. I love the explanation you received for why there is no apostrophe.

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  10. I'll have you know, before I left a comment here, I had to remove a certain apostrophe from my own post! Thanks for the heads up. :) More importantly, thanks for the thoughtful tribute, Becky.

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    1. I am sure I've added an apostrophe to certain holidays before, too, Michelle! ; )

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  11. Becky, I always love to hear explanations about topics so thank you for sharing the information about Veterans Day. Joyce Kilmer's poem in the form of a prayer is evocative. Thank you.

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  12. I love this poem ... actually JK is one of my favorite poets because how he touches my heart, makes me a better person. Thank you for this and for sharing with your boys the meaning of Veterans Day. God bless them.

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