L'Abri Journals...ACGray

November 2002
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Remembrance and Thanksgiving

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.

                 John McCrae, In Flanders Fields


Chalet LAbri    Nov 1, 2002

a page from my journal....acg

The calendar turns and once more enters November with both Remembrance (Veterans) Day and Thanksgiving Day..I have been reading the story of how Major John McCrae, a Canadian surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade in Belgium in 1915 wrote his famous poem. Flanders is the name of the western part of Belgium.  An ancient battleground, the fields of Flanders have been soaked with blood for centuries.  They say that poppies only bloom when everything else around them is dead.  And they say their seeds will lie in the ground for years, and only when there are no more competing flowers or shrubs, will poppy seeds sprout.  When McCrae wrote his famous poem in May, 1915, the fields of Flanders  were uprooted with thousands of new graves and poppies bloomed around him in wild abandon like no one had ever seen before.

Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have this day of remembrance in common with America.  In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, the Allied powers signed a cease-fire agreement (an Armistice) with Germany at Rethondes, France on November 11, 1918, bringing World War I to a close. The "war to end all wars" was over.  November 11, 1919 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States;  the purpose - to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace.   Congress voted this day of remembrance a federal holiday in 1938, twenty years after the first world war ended. But Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began the following year and nations great and small again participated in a bloody struggle.  Then followed the long cold war with Russia, war with North Korea, the Vietnam conflict, and the Gulf War.  In the long history of Americas wars and crucibles, going back to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the moniker Remembrance Day seems to me more appropriate than Veterans Day or Armistice Day, because countless people both in and out of uniform have contributed their energies, fortunes, and lives for the cause of freedom.   

Even Thanksgiving Day was originally a time for Remembrance in the struggle for freedom, as well as a time for giving thanks to the Lord God of Heaven who blessed the earliest beginnings of this land of the free and home of the brave.  So as this November begins, I brood over poppies, count my many blessings, and with a grateful heart lift up a Deo Gratis.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.  Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation.......and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

     George Washingtons Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17