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Veterans' Day
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Veteran's Day Poetry
Table of Contents

High Flight

In Flanders Field
   

America Answers
In Flanders Field

Things That Make
A Soldier Great
   

The Common Soldier

All Honor to Her
   

The Lark Above The Trenches

To the Memory of the
Brave Americans
   

Eulogy for a Veteran
 







 High Flight
PDF File Worksheet

By John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on
laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward, I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long,
delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high
untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Special Note for High Flight:
During the Battle of Britain, many Americans crossed the border into Canada to enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force ... they knowingly broke the law in order to fight Hitler's Germany.  

John Gillespie Magee, Jr., born in Shanghai, China, in 1922. When Magee was just 18 years old, he entered flight training and was sent to England, on 30 June 1941. He flew the Spitfire being promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer. German bombers were crossing the English Channel regularly to attack Britain's cities and factories.

On September 3, 1941, Magee flew a Spitfire V test flight which inspired him to write his poem. That same day he wrote a letter to his parents which included this now famous poem. Three months later, on December 11, 1941 (three days after the US entered the war and four days after Pearl Harbor), John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was killed. He was just 19 years old. John Gillespie Magee, Jr. is at Scopwick, Lincolnshire, in a churchyard cemetery.

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 In Flanders Field
PDF File Worksheet

by Captain John D. McCrae


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.

Special Note for In Flanders Field
So, why the poppy?
During the Napoleonic wars, it was observed that the fields were bright with colorful red poppies before a battle. Strangely enough, it was discovered that the bombardment of these fields helped the poppy to grow! John McCrae's poem became popular in 1915 and by 1918, Moina Michael began to weave poppies in remembrance of those who had died in WWI while working at the YMCA canteen. Madame Guerin learned of this in 1920 when she visited in New York from France. On her return home, she began making poppies to earn money for the children of veterans and the worn torn Europe. The USA tends to wear poppies on Memorial Day while other countries (e.g., Canada, etc.) wear them in November.

 

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AMERICA ANSWERS -
IN FLANDERS FIELD

R. W. Lilliard

Rest ye in peace, ye Flanders dead.
The fight that ye so bravely led
We've taken up.  And we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep
With each a cross to mark his bed,
In Flanders fields.
Fear not that ye have died for naught.
The torch ye threw to us we caught.
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And Freedom's light shall never die!
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders fields.

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THE THINGS THAT MAKE A SOLDIER GREAT
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.

'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?

The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be — the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.

He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now — he's fighting for them all.

 

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The Common Soldier


Nobody cared, when he went to war,
But the woman that cried on his shoulder;
Nobody decked him with immortelles;
He was only a common soldier.

Nobody packed in a dainty trunk
Folded raiment and officer's fair;
A knapsack held all the new recruit
Might own, or love, or eat, or wear.

Nobody gave him a good-by fete,
With sparkling jest and flower crowned wine:
Two or three friends on the sidewalk stood
Watching for Jones, the fourth in line.

Nobody cared how the battle went,
With the man that fought till the bullet sped
Through the coat undecked with leaf or star
On a common soldier left for dead.

The cool rain bathed the fevered wound,
And the kind clouds wept the live long night;
A pitying lotion Nature gave,
Till help might come with morning light —

Such help as the knife of the surgeon gives,
Cleaving the gallant arm from shoulder;
And another name swells the pension list
For the meager pay of a common soldier.

What matter how he served the guns
When plume and sash were over yonder?
What matter though he bear the flag
Through blinding smoke and battle thunder.

What matters though a wife and child
Cry softly for that good arm rent?
And wonder why that random shot
To him, their own, beloved, was sent?

O patriotic hearts, wipe out this stain;
Give jeweled cup and sword and no more;
But let no common soldier blush
To own the loyal wardrobe he wore.

Shout long and loud for victory won
By chief and leader stanch and true;
But don't forget the boys that fought —
Shout for the common soldier too !

 

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All Honor to Her


He offered himself for the land he loved,
But what shall we say for her ?
He gave to his country a soldier's life;
'Twas dearer by far to the soldier's wife.
All honor today to her !

He went to the war while his blood was hot,
But what shall we say of her ?
He saw himself through the battle's flame
A hero's reward on the scroll of fame;
What honor is due to her ?

He offered himself, but his wife did more,
All honor today to her !
For dearer than life was the gift she gave
In giving the life she would die to save;
What honor is due to her?

He gave up his life at his country's call,
But what shall we say of her ?
He offered himself as a sacrifice,
But she is the one who pays the price.
All honor we owe to her.

 

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The Lark Above The Trenches
by Muriel E Graham, WWI


All day the guns had worked
   their hellish will,
And all night long
With sobbing breath men
   gasped their lives away
Or shivered restless on the ice-cold clay,
Till morn broke pale and chill
With sudden song.

Above the sterile furrows war
   had ploughed
With deep-trenched seams,
Wherein this year such
   bitter seed is sown,
Wherein this year no fruitful
   grain is strown,
A lark poured from the cloud
Its throbbing dreams.

It sang — and pain and death
   were passing shows
So glad and strong;
Life soared triumphant,
   though a myriad men
Were swept like leaves beyond
   the living's ken,
That wounded hope arose
To greet that song.

 

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To the Memory of
the Brave Americans

Philip Freneau


Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
who fell in the action of September 8, 1781

AT Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er —
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more!

If in this wreck or ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!

Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear. —

They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear — but left the shield.

Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly;
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved, in such a cause to die —

But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.

Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A brighter sunshine of their own.

 

 

Eulogy for a Veteran


Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
   of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

 

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Request:  Does anybody have any recommendations for Veterans Day Poetry?
If so, e-mail us your ideas by clicking here

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