Fallen Hero–Remembering 100 years ago
The poppy is a symbol forever bound to WWI because of a poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae—a Canadian medic and soldier. McCrae witnessed the horrors of the front line while battling in Flanders, Belgium—seventeen days and seventeen nights his battalion held their position against the German attack.
Later, when burying a friend, he noticed how the poppies flourish on barren fields around the soldier’s graves, the seeds having been disturbed in the soil and watered by the blood of those laid to rest. He penned the poem the very next day while riding in the back of an ambulance. Unsatisfied with the words, he’s said to have discarded the poem. However, thanks to fellow soldiers, the poem was retrieved and eventually published in a London-based magazine
Today the British International School in Sweden, along with the British Embassy and schools throughout the UK, and around the world, commemorated the 100 Year Anniversary of the First World War. In honor of the soldiers who gave their lives, the children planted poppy seeds–hoping that come August 4th, the day in 1914 when Great Britain declared war on Germany, the flowers will bloom.
The children also wrote poems for the occasion and my 11-year old son Jonah was selected to read his poem entitled, Fallen Soldiers, during the ceremony. It expresses more feeling and understanding of the events of that day than a book report could have captured (that’s why I love poetry for children) and is a stirring account of how a young man in battle might have felt that fateful day. (You could say I’m pretty darn proud of him.)
Fallen Hero by Jonah Wimmer
I shivered as the wind whipped my face,
I wrinkled my nose at the smell,
I wished I could pluck out mine eyes.
I saw thousands of young men sprinkled across the battlefield.
There was no time for mourning
Our enemies didn’t wait,
The bombardments kept us sharp as knives.
I was weary and scared–my heart pumping out of my chest,
I was dreading the moment I would be sent over the top.
I was proud of the soldiers, who bravely conquered their fear,
But I was no soldier.
How could I perform such a heroic deed?
I couldn’t take it anymore; the pressure was just too much.
But I thought of my fallen brothers, the tunnelers who suffocated,
The men who had been so brutally murdered,
Then I thought to myself,
I’d rather die fighting than betraying my country and living.
I sat up and got ready,
I cried as I prayed for my family’s safety.
I walked over to the captain who was a gatekeeper to hell,
I stood at the gate waiting for him to say one dreadful word…
I sprinted into no man’s land
Embracing my inevitable death.
I was a bird with no wings lying on the forest floor.
There was no cover, no crack nor crevice to hide in,
I watched the men fall one by one.
The blue sky came out and the wind died down.
The stench didn’t bother me.
As I lay on the mutilated field, I saw my friends and family carved into the mountainous clouds,
The dead soldiers who died fighting this war would be remembered as heroes…
And so will I.
Time must not diminish our history, our mistakes, our sacrifices, nor our humanity. Remembering is a conscious act to hold in the present the events and people who have shaped our past. Our world wouldn’t be the same without them. We can each choose how we want to remember…a moment of silence, reading a poem or watching a documentary or some other meaningful ritual to honor those who make freedom ring. This Memorial day, as you make it a point to do something to remember, you’ll feel just how much we have to be grateful for today.