Memorial Day Poem, Lest We Forget by Mary Lou Meyers

Mary Lou Meyers is my Douglass classmate as well as my “poet in residence.” Thanx, Mary Lou!
Lest We Forget

Small town America does it best on Memorial Day
with gold stars touching their roof tops;
with poppies sold by former vets,
even with Fife and Drum Corps on parade.
Not just American Flags flying in the breeze
but names and faces from every branch of Service
in between, prominently displayed in their uniforms,
as those who loved them most remembered them
with biographical notations and occasional quotations
whether down a shaded avenue in Oxford
or Main Street in Quarryville.
These are towns you might pass through
without a glance,
except for the chance meeting of Amish buggies
or if you decided to stop,
an air of friendliness, even from the Manager
of the aptly named Goods Store
where the customers’ needs are easily understood,
where they greet each other as if a long lost relative.
Their identity easily remembered too,
for they came from open houses and friendly streets
where people are what they seem.
For the town is truly invested
in each young man or woman
subject to the call of their country’s distress
having past the test of time and endurance,
even under the duress of the firing line.
Heroes all, these Home Town kids:
neighbors remember well the little girl
around the corner selling lemonade;
he might have broken a few rules in school,
but a prime applicant for a job after high school;
or the home-town jock, whose prowess in baseball or football,
or better yet a merit  scholarship, or best of all the one,
who decided to rear his family
right here on the street next door to you and me.
Here the greetings are personal, not just “hi”
but “glad to see you up and around!”
“Can I help you out?’ Knowing someone was floundering
in the last snow storm or because they are down
to their last cent, and instead of counting them out,
someone is there to spare their doubt
life is truly worth living.
What were their final parting words,
their final parting thoughts,
surely they were of family and friends,
and letters that said, “I miss you all!!”
“Keep the Home Fires Burning” of World War I
or “Coming in on a wing and a prayer,”
and “Blue birds over the White Cliffs of Dover,
tomorrow when the world is free!” of World War II,
which expressed so much of the sentiment
here and overseas;
or in Korea high on denuded mountain tops
or bogged down in the muck and mire
in the Jungles of Viet Nam,
where the enemy proved to be invisible,
or the sands of Afghanistan where projectiles
and insidious IUDs pick off the unsuspecting,
where no one is safe;
and in every land where our fighting men and women
are duty-bound to see their missions through
for modern wars have no boundary lines
to keep the enemy confined.
The same refrain to be states-side again,
and find a place of peace and solitude
in a  freedom loving land:
if I ever get down from this aircraft in one piece;
or in a boat torpedoed with the water rising,
or sizing up the enemy forces miraculously
making it through with guts and glory,
the story of so many young Americans,
the inventory of a country fierce in pride
because they believe in Freedom and Rights
though good men and women die,
“Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”
Some were body-bag whole, some charred beyond recognition,
but here in the portraitures, they looked their expressed best;
still each one of them knew in the secret part of their soul,
they might be asked to make the supreme sacrifice.
Knowing at the final stage the exploding myth,
uniform alone does not transform,
but how each one grew into the role,
form-fit with their heart in control.
P.S. Today is May 29th and tomorrow is Memorial Day, but I wanted to post the poem today because it is also the birthday of John F. Kennedy, our president who was wounded in WWII and survived, but dies at the hands of an assassin on our own soil.

4 Responses to “Memorial Day Poem, Lest We Forget by Mary Lou Meyers”

  1. Mary-Lou Meyers Says:

    after writing this and showing our local librarian, and giving a copy to Ware, a Retirement Community,
    where so many were in the service of our country, I dropped it off at the Police Station in Oxford,
    where the sergeant told me he too was in the war. He hoped I could contact the Man in charge and
    deliver at Graveside. All he said, when I left was “God Bless You,” which is all he needed to say to make
    my day for we remember well the stars in the windows of those serving in World War 11.

  2. Paula Says:

    God Bless all who who have served or who are now serving our country. Tonight on WNET it was noted that over 2 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than
    6,000 were killed with more than 52,000 wounded. And so it goes. The more history changes, the more it stays the same. Sad.

  3. ellen sue spicer Says:

    I agree! ellensue

  4. ellen sue spicer Says:

    Terrific! Thanx for telling me. ellensue

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